Phoenix takes a steak in Gaucho

Barclays Private Equity has sold its 47% stake in UK-headquartered restaurant chain Gaucho Grill to Phoenix Equity Partners in a £55m deal.

The buyout of the company, which specialises in Argentinian cuisine – and in particular Argentinian beef – was co-led by Zeev Godik, the chief executive of Gaucho who founded the business in 1976.

Barclays backed a £23.5m MBO in January 2005, two and a half years after Gaucho was pulled off AIM after a disastrous six-month stint as a public company on the back of the foot and mouth outbreak in both the UK and Argentina. Since Barclays acquired its interest, the profits of the business have doubled.

The acquisition of Gaucho is the second investment by Phoenix’s new £375m fund raised in April 2006. It is also the firm’s second foray into the restaurant sector, the first being its 1999 investment in UK burger restaurant chain Tootsies, which it sold to Urban Dining for £31m in November 2004.

Gaucho will continue to be led by Zeev Godik, and Stephen Gee, chairman of Carluccios, the Italian café and food shop chain based in the UK, will join as non-executive chairman.