Spice Private Equity, a Swiss subsidiary of the investment firm GP Investments, has agreed to acquire Bravo Brio Restaurant Group for $100 million in cash, the companies announced Thursday.
The deal, at $4.05 per share, is 37% higher than Bravo Brio’s average price in the 90 days before the agreement.
The Columbus, Ohio-based Bravo Brio owns Bravo Cucina Italiana and Brio Tuscan Grille. The two combined chains operate 110 locations in 32 states and generated $400 million in sales in 2017.
The deal, expected to be completed in the second quarter, comes after a tumultuous period for the Italian casual-dining chain owner. The company’s chains have struggled for years, including a 5.7% decline in the quarter ended Sept. 24. The company has closed seven locations in the last half of the year.
And its stock price has been steadily declining since it went public in 2010 and traded in the $20s shortly thereafter. The stock closed at $3.50 a share Wednesday.
Activists have been pushing for changes at the company, which has been exploring a sale for some time. Robert Earl, the founder of Planet Hollywood, bought 5.5% of Bravo Brio stock and filed as an activist earlier this year. TAC Capital, owner of 8% of Bravo Brio stock, has also pushed for changes.
The $100 million deal gives Bravo Brio an acquisition multiple of 4 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA.
“Our board of directors, in consultation with our advisors, has evaluated all options available to BBRG and we are confident that this transaction maximizes value for our shareholders,” Rick Doody, BBRG’s chairman, said in a statement. He said that GP has a “distinguished track record of being an active and valuable partner to its invested companies” and has an “operationally oriented approach.”
GP Investments has made a number of investments over the years in companies in many industries. It owned the Brazilian steak chain Fogo de Chao, selling it to Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2012, and currently owns the U.K.-based Mediterranean chain Leon.
“Bravo Brio has two best-in-class restaurant brands, an enduring culture, and a team committed to delivering exceptional dining experiences to its guests,” Antonio Bonchristiano, CEO of GP Investments, said in a statement.
He noted that Bravo Brio will have more “flexibility” to make changes as a private company.
“As a private entity, we will have greater flexibility to take a long-term view as we invest in Bravo Brio’s future growth and expansion, which will drive rewards for the company and our investors,” Bonchristiano said.
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