Gondola Holdings, the holding company for the PizzaExpress, ASK and Zizzi restaurant chains is to float on the London Stock Exchange. Gondola is owned by TDR Capital and Capricorn Ventures International Limited.
Gondola intends to use the proceeds from the IPO to pay down shareholder debt. The existing shareholders do not intend to sell shares in connection with the IPO.
Merrill Lynch International is global co-ordinator and sponsor for the IPO. Merrill Lynch International, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs International are joint bookrunners.
TDR Capital and Capricorn, through the bid vehicle GondolaExpress PLC, acquired a controlling interest in PizzaExpress Limited (formerly PizzaExpress plc) in a public-to-private transaction in June 2003 for around £413m. Following the transaction certain underperforming, non-core and international operations of PizzaExpress were identified for divestiture and/or closed and transferred outside the Group. These operations included the restaurants trading under the Café Pasta name and all PizzaExpress’s international operations, other than those in the Republic of Ireland. Certain of these operations have since been closed and/or sold to third parties.
In May 2004, TDR Capital and Capricorn, through the bid vehicle Riposte Limited, completed the acquisition of ASK Central, the holding company of the ASK Group, and the ASK and Zizzi brands for approximately £114m. The transaction established the group as a leading casual dining group in the UK and consolidated three successful restaurant concepts.
Following the acquisition of the ASK Group and implementation of these strategic priorities across the group, EBITDA (before exceptional administrative expenses) increased by 11.8% in the year ended 26 June 2005, compared to the aggregated ASK and PizzaExpress figure for the year ended 27 June 2004.