July 31, 2014
International law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges has advised J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs on the financing of Hony Capital's £900m ($1.54 bn) acquisition of Pizza Express from the Gondola Group. Pizza Express is the largest casual dining restaurant operator in the UK, and this is the largest deal in the European restaurant sector in the past five years.
Hony Capital, the China-based buyout fund with $7bn assets under management, will work together with the Pizza Express management team to accelerate its expansion in China and continue to grow the UK business. Pizza Express has over 430 restaurants in the UK, and 22 sites in China.
Weil's UK/Asia Banking lawyers advised on the bank/bond financing which launched today, and the team was led by Patrick Bright, with assistance from London partners James Hogben and Chris McLaughlin. The lead associates on the transaction were Evgeny Zborovsky, Miles Chan and Richard Harmer in London.
This deal is one of a number of high-profile European situations that the London Banking team have advised on in the last six months. Further recent mandates include: the $10 billion financing for the merger of the coffee business of Mondelēz International and D.E Master Blenders 1753, involving Chris McLaughlin in London and Daniel Dokos and Douglas Urquhart in New York; the multi-billion Euro financing for Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking's acquisition of Flint Group led by Chris McLaughlin; the lenders on Advent International and Bain Capital's $3.1 billion acquisition of Nordic payment company, Nets; and the lenders on Hellman & Friedman's €1.7 billion acquisition of German online marketplace retailer, Scout24, led by James Hogben.