Nov 22, 2019

Chinese owner looks to tighten grip on PizzaExpress

Chinese private equity group Hony Capital plans to tighten its grip on PizzaExpress with an agreement to buy an additional £80m of its bonds at a steep discount, giving it more control over any restructuring of the UK restaurant chain's debts. The pizza chain's other bondholders have called on Hony to work with them to reduce the company's debt, which analysts estimate has exceeded the equity value of the business and will force it to restructure. A source close to PizzaExpress said that "The view from the business is that it is good news that Hony is investing money and buying back bonds". Bondholders have criticised Hony for not investing in the UK business and using funds instead to expand PizzaExpress in China, under the Pizza Marzano brand. Wolfgang Felix, head of Sarria, a financial adviser, said: "Everyone is trying to interpret what Hony does next. There are a few options open to them now. The maturity of the debt in 2021 is as good as tomorrow in terms of how fast PizzaExpress is going to turn round."

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