Last word

  • Outsourcing group Xchanging began the investor education process for its LSE IPO yesterday through lead managers Citigroup and UBS. The company adds to the growing list of deals due to price during the week of April 23 with roadshows scheduled to begin following the Easter break. A combination of primary and secondary selling, with sellers including majority shareholder General Atlantic Partners and company management, should result in a deal size of around £500m.
  • Tragus, the Blackstone-owned operator of UK restaurant chains Café Rouge and Bella Italia, has agreed to acquire Spanish tapas bar operator La Tasca with a recommended cash offer of 185p per share, valuing La Tasca’s share capital at £96m.

The offer, which followed an auction run by PricewaterhouseCoopers, represents a premium of 12% to the closing price of La Tasca shares on February 7, prior to the offer period; of 36% to the average closing price for the six months up to February 7; and of 65% to the flotation price of La Tasca on AIM in February 2005.

La Tasca has been advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Altium. Rothschild is adviser to Tragus, and Shore Capital is broker to Tragus. Barclays Capital has arranged acquisition finance facilities on behalf of Tragus.

Commenting on the proposals, Joseph Baratta, a senior managing director of Blackstone Group, said: “The acquisition of La Tasca will further strengthen Tragus’s position as one of the UK’s leading casual dining restaurant operators, with over 240 restaurants. La Tasca will complement Tragus’s key brands of Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia, which are market leaders in the classic French and Italian restaurant sectors.”

La Tasca, founded in 1993, has 58 La Tasca restaurants in the UK and four in the US, as well as La Vinas and three Sam & Maxie’s Bar, Grill and Smokehouses.