U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital, which is in the race for SkyLake Investment-owned Outback Steakhouse Korea, has also approached CJ Foodville Co Ltd about buying its restaurant chain brands, according to industry sources.
CJ Foodville’s key brands include bakery chain Tous Les Jours, steakhouse VIPS, Italian restaurant The Place and Korean-style buffet Season’s Table. Bain Capital is considering acquiring all brands except the bakery chain, the sources said.
There have been constant rumors that CJ Foodville might be a buyout target, as it has been making a loss for years. Revenue from the company’s restaurant brands is sluggish, with the bakery chain accounting for more than 40% of total revenue according to the latest group financial results.
“CJ Foodville has been approached by several investors about a possible sale, but no talks have led to a deal,” a source said.
Negotiations between Bain Capital and CJ Foodville have also reportedly made little progress, with some sources identifying the valuation gap as a key obstacle. Others said Bain Capital might have concluded that CJ Foodville was less attractive than other takeover targets in the South Korean food and beverage sector.
Bain Capital is said to be trying to expand its food service portfolio in South Korea by acquiring several restaurant chains. Its offer for 100% of Outback Steakhouse Korea and talks with CJ Foodville are both seen as part of this strategy.
The U.S. firm has a strong track record in the food service industry. In 2006 it bought Bloomin’ Brands Inc, which operates Outback Steakhouse globally, exiting after the company’s initial public offering on Nasdaq in 2012.
“CJ Foodville was seemingly an important piece of Bain Capital’s plan for expanding its restaurants portfolio in Korea,” another source said. “Failed talks with CJ Foodville may force Bain Capital to explore other opportunities.” (Reporting by Hye-ran Kim)