Chinese take away for Pizza Express

For the last 10 weeks the battle for Pizza Express has been waged, in terms of who would be the successful party that would succeed Gondola Investments in owning the international pizza restaurant chain. PE luminaries such as the Carlyle Group, CVC, Advent and TPG Capital have all been reported to have been interested in purchasing the company. However yesterday it was announced that the successful bidder was Hony Capital, the Beijing-based private equity firm, which has reportedly paid around GBP 900m for the 504 restaurant chain. Pizza Express is not unknown in the Chinese market; there are currently 22 Pizza Expresses located in China with the inaugural restaurant in Beijing opening just recently in May. Other international Asian locations include Hong Kong, India, Bali and Saudi Arabia.

Gondola Investments took Pizza Express private in a highly contested bid back in July 2003, when they paid just under GBP 250m for the group. But despite selling Pizza Express, Gondola will still be able to call for pizza if needed as it still owns the other two Italian restaurant chains – Ask and Zizzi.