Restaurant chain Outback Steakhouse Korea is believed to have registered an improved financial performance in 2020, raising hopes for a successful sale after the company failed to reach a deal with potential suitors a few months ago.

Private equity firm SkyLake Investment selected Credit Suisse as its deal manager and is undergoing a sale process, industry sources said on Monday (January 11). Bidders were shortlisted earlier, but no further steps have been taken.

“The seller is expected to resume a sale process after Outback Steakhouse’s income statement and financial statement have been unveiled,” said an industry source.

The firm’s revenue increased by an average of 11.8% per year between 2017 and 2019 and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization margin (EBITDA) rose from 7.6% in 2017 to 10.3% in 2019 after the brand image was changed from a family restaurant chain to a premium steakhouse.

Revenue is expected to grow by 15.5% per year from 2020 to 2024, according to the information memorandum SkyLake Investment distributed last year.

Some market insiders said it was uncertain whether the company could continue its growth amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it may have less impact than feared on the chain, because it already started its delivery services in the summer of 2019.

Outback Steakhouse has also expanded the delivery services by setting up more cloud kitchens, which operate for online deliveries only. The company has 15 kitchens and plans to open 160 by 2024.

SkyLake Investment said it expected the chain’s 2020 revenue and EBITDA to be 281 billion won and 29.1 billion won respectively, up 10.6% and 11.1% from a year ago.

Better-than-expected earnings growth is likely to help the chain’s sale process accelerate, industry watchers said. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim)