News In Brief

Private equity firm TDR Capital is believed to have started exclusive discussions to acquire Luminar’s entertainment business. TDR has seen off bids for the entertainment arm from two other buyout groups, which includes the Jumpin’ Jaks and Chicago Rock bar chains. The entertainment unit has a book value of about £110m (US$208m). Sources admitted that the discussions were not far advanced and that there was no certainty of a deal. Luminar, the UK-listed nightclub operator, has tried unsuccessfully to sell its entertainment side on previous occasions. It pulled the sale of the division earlier this year due to a disappointing response, the report explained. The group has since been in discussions with buyout groups HgCapital and Rutland but the talks have recently been broken off.Luminar said that it was not surprised at interest in the division, but would not comment directly. TDR also would not comment.

Household goods manufacturer MFI Furniture has agreed to pay Merchant Equity Partners up to £125m (US$233m) for taking over its struggling retail chain. Merchant Equity will pay MFI a nominal £1. MFI has long wanted to divest its 200-strong chain and will now focus on its Howden Joinery business. The group also plans to change its name to Galiform. MFI said it would pay Merchant Equity £60.6m on completion of the deal, followed by a further £53.1m next September and up to £12m in April 2008. Merchant Equity has said it plans to invest £50m in the retail division plus a possible further £12m by April 2008. Investors welcomed the news, sending MFI shares up 4.75p to 92.75p in early trading.

French private equity investors LBO France and PAI Partners and US funds Carlyle and Bain Capital have been selected as second round bidders in the €2bn (US$2.5bn) auction of the roofing materials business of French building supplies maker Lafarge, according to sources close to the deal. The sources said the selection is not yet complete but is expected to be wrapped up this week. Lafarge expects to retain a minority stake in the business, which is valued at around €2bn. Lafarge, the world’s biggest cement maker, hired JP Morgan and Rothschild to advise it on the sale of the underperforming unit which has suffered in recent years because of falling prices in Germany after its post-reunification building boom petered out. Chief Executive Bruno Lafont said in June he would sell the business if he got a fair price for it and could keep a minority stake.