news in brief

• London restaurant chain Gaucho plans to return to the stock market five years after being taken private. Phoenix Equity Partners, who backed the secondary buyout from Barclays Private Equity of the Argentine themed group last year, plans to sell its 45% stake. This would leave chief executive and founder Zeev Godik, as the largest shareholder. The group plans to raise £75m (€108.3m) to expand the chain further and replace the £25m (€36.1m) of equity that Phoenix aims to withdraw. Hawkpoint is advising Gaucho. The corporate finance boutique is now owned by broker Collins Stewart. That Hawkpoint is providing advice suggests that an outright trade sale or further buyout had been considered. Godik said: “We are committed to developing the Gaucho brand within the UK. A flotation will help us to raise our profile, as well as facilitate the recruitment and retention of management and key employees.” Gaucho saw sales rise 29.4% and EBTIDA by 32% between 2004 and 2006. And in the first half of this year ENITDA improved 44% to £3.6m on sales up 41.4% to £15.7m at its 11 restaurants. The company hopes to open a further 40 restaurants in the UK.

Close Brothers Private Equity has backed a £46.5m (€67.1m) management buyout of Protocol Skills, a provider of vocational training. The Cheshire-based company has an annual turnover of about £35m and focuses on the retail and hospitality sectors. Protocol Skills has been acquired from Protocol Group, itself backed by private equity firm Bridgepoint. The buyout team was led by chief executive Dan White, who joined the business in 2004. Close Brothers private Equity and Protocol Skills were advised by Amethyst, Wragge & Co and The Parthenon Group. Bridgepoint was advised by Rothshild, Taylor Wessing, KPMG and Deloitte.

• The management team of Ainscough Crane Hire has bought the business in a £255m (€368m) buyout backed by Bank of Scotland Integrated Finance. Based in Standish, near Wigan, Ainscough claims to be the UK’s leading crane hire company and employs 1000 people. Founded in 1976 by Gerald Ainscough and his family the company has been run by three of his sons since 1984. Ainscough Crane Hire has expanded through a combination of acquisition and organic growth and has a national network of 25 depots and a fleet of 500 mobile cranes. PricewaterhouseCoopers and Hammonds advised the vendors, while Park Place Corporate Finance advised the buyout team. DLA and Deloitte advised BoS IF.