Oak Hill Capital pulls in for another food stop

Oak Hill Capital, the US-based private equity investor, has announced that its taking a bite of another food chain, with a USD 525m investment in Checkers Drive In-Restaurants, which includes the Rally’s brand outlets and will be the third investment it has made in this sector. Oak Hill’s previous investments have included Dave & Busters, the games-themed restaurant chain, which it acquired for USD 570m in 2010 and sold a 19 per cent stake in for USD 224m in 2015. Back in the early noughties it also controlled Caribbean Restaurants LLC, the company operating Burger King in Puerto Rico, which it exited in 2004, selling for USD 340m to Castle Harlan Inc, another US-based PE firm.

Checkers is an operator and franchisor of around 850 US-based “quick service restaurants”, with its menus focused on burgers, and whilst the company started in 1985 it has gone through a number of ownership changes since then. It was a listed company on the Nasdaq until it was taken private by Wellspring Capital for USD 188m in 2006, and then sold on in a secondary buy out by Wellspring to Sentinel Capital in January 2014. This will be the company’s third private equity owner. The firm continues to show impressive growth and it is clearly the belief of their CEO, Rick Silva - as illustrated by his very non-corporate quote that “We’re not taking a different direction… what we’re really doing is throwing gasoline on a fire here” – that in tandem with Oak Hill this growth can be accelerated even further.