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Big restaurant investor L Catterton reportedly could go public

The owner of concepts like Velvet Taco, Barcelona and Bartaco may hold an initial public offering or merge with a SPAC.
L Catterton IPO
Photograph: Shutterstock

L Catterton, the big private equity firm with considerable holdings in the restaurant industry, is considering options to go public, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.

Reuters said no decisions have been made, and said that the Greenwich, Conn.-based firm could go public either via an initial public offering or a merger with a publicly-traded shell company known as a SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company.

Such a move would take public what has historically been one of the industry’s most active investors.

L Catterton, which was created in 2016 with the merger of the private equity firm Catterton with Louis Vuitton owner LVMH and the family investment firm Groupe Arnault. The firm has $28 billion in assets.

Some of that is held in restaurants. L Catterton has historically been among the most active investors and buyers of restaurant chains in recent years.

Among its most notable recent deals, the company in 2017 provided $18.5 million in rescue funding for Noodles & Co., the fast-casual chain it had taken public four years earlier to considerable fanfare but which had struggled to win over investors. The company’s stock has nearly tripled in value since then.

More recently, in 2019, L Catterton acquired Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, taking the company private for $650 million. L Catterton then sold Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse and Del Frisco’s Grille to Landry’s—a fate Del Frisco’s had in fact hoped to avoid earlier—while keeping growth concepts Barcelona Wine Bar and Barteca.

Current majority investments include Uncle Julio’s, Velvet Taco, Primanti Bros., and Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza. It holds a minority stake in the burger chain Hopdoddy, the Italian chain Piada and the health-focused concepts Snap Kitchen and Protein Bar. It also owns majority stakes in global concepts like the Spanish casual chain Goiko and the Indian chain operator Impresario.

L Catterton is considering a move to the public market in part because valuations for publicly traded private equity firms have soared. Blackstone Group’s stock is up by two-thirds this year; KKR is up by about 50% and Apollo Global Management is up 21%.

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