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Madison Square Garden Entertainment explores sale of Tao Group Hospitality

It's official. The time is right to sell the global dining-and-nightlife operator of Tao Asian Bistro, Hakkasan and Lavo Italian, among others, parent company says.
Tao Asian Bistro
Tao Asian Bistro is among the brands operated by Tao Group Hospitality./Photo courtesy of Tao Group Hospitality.

Tao Group Hospitality is now officially for sale.

Parent company Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. said Monday it is exploring a potential sale of its majority stake in the New York-based Tao Group Hospitality, a global restaurant and nightlife company that includes more than 70 restaurants.

Rumors about the possible sale have been circulating for weeks, and some reports indicated that restaurant collector Tilman Fertitta, president and CEO of Landry’s Inc., was a possible suitor for the Tao Group, which includes concepts like the Tao Asian Bistro, Hakkasan and Lavo Italian brands.

In a statement, the company said, “MSG Entertainment regularly evaluates ways to maximize shareholder value and believes that now is the appropriate time to explore a potential sale of its interest in Tao Group Hospitality.”

Tao Group’s co-CEOs Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss sold a majority stake in the group to MSG Entertainment in 2017. Tao Group expanded in 2021 with the acquisition of the Hakkasan Group, which included the high-end namesake brand, as well as the growing Yauatcha and Ling Ling brands.

A Ling Ling location, for example, is scheduled to open this week at the ultra-luxury Atlantis resort in Dubai.

Last year, MSG Entertainment submitted a proposal to spin off Tao Group as a separate company along with the MSG Sphere, a $2.2 billion venue under construction in Las Vegas, which is scheduled to open later this year. A report in The New York Post indicated Madison Square Garden’s billionaire owner Jim Dolan was looking to sell Tao Group to fund the Sphere’s construction.

In its Sept. 30-ended earnings report, MSG Entertainment said Tao Group generated $132.7 million in revenues for the first quarter, up 11% over the prior year. Due to higher labor, rent and food-and-beverage costs, income for the quarter was $5.9 million, down 41% year over year. Fourth quarter earnings are scheduled for Feb. 9.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to clarify that the proposed spin off of MSG Sphere is still being pursued.

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