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February 25, 2008

Pret a Manger – Best Deal of the month!

Market sources said that sandwich chain Pret a Manger looks determined to head to private-equity sponsor Bridgepoint Capital. Press reports have confirmed that Bridgepoint will purchase the sandwich chain for £350 million – which is well below the initial target of its founders.

Pret a Manger is owned by its two founders, Julian Metccalfe and Sinclair Beecham, and by McDonald’s – who bought its stake in 2001, at the price of £50 million. While the two founders will have the opportunity to reinvest, McDonald’s is expected to exit when the sale is agreed and the new terms negotiated.

The sandwich chain was founded in 1986, it currently has a branch network of 163 branches in the UK, 13 in New York, 11 in Hong Kong and one in Singapore. The owners were hoping to achieve an offer price of about £400-£450 million just last September. However, the actual offer price is £100 millions less than anticipated by its founders, but certainly good news to the private-equity sponsors, who do not have to dig deep in their pockets…

NM Rothschild is advising on the sale, and for them it has been a long wait backing the last standing bidders. From the press report it was understood that three sponsors remain in play, those are: Morgan Stanley Private Equity, Advent and Bridgepoint.

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