Private equity group could scoop up Jamie’s Italian restaurants as Keystone sale offers close

Jamie's Italian

A Jamie's Italian restaurant in Bristol, England.

Administrators have closed expressions of interest for the purchase of venues owned by the collapsed Keystone Group amid reports that private equity firm Quadrant could be considering taking on Jamie Oliver’s restaurant chain.

The Australian reports Quadrant Private Equity has its eye on Jamie’s Italian Australia Restaurants, controlled by the Keystone Group, which collapsed into receivership in June.

This week administrator Ferrier Hodgson said indicative bids for the group, or individual brands within it, had closed.

“More than 80 interested parties were provided access to the data room to conduct due diligence,” receiver Morgan Kelly said in a statement.

“The Receivers are now reviewing indicative offers and entering into negotiations with a range of parties.”

The Keystone Hospitality Group was responsible for the operation of the Jamie’s restaurants, as well as 11 other venues in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. At the time of the collapse the receivers told SmartCompany the operation had 1200 staff.

All businesses have continued to trade while under external management as receivers put out a call for the purchase of the entire group, as well as individual venues.

According to reports from News Corp, Quadrant’s interest in the Jamie’s business comes after a number of other recent acquisition deals.

This includes the purchase of Ardent Leisure’s fitness business in August, and the revelation yesterday that it will purchase gym chain Fitness First.

Jamie’s Italian had six restaurants across Australia. The Adelaide venue had been open just on two years when Keystone entered receivership. At the time, reports surfaced that Oliver himself demanded a sit down in London with the Keystone executive team, “furious” with the failed hospitality operation.

The Keystone sale process is just one of several recent merger and acquisition moves in Australia’s food space. In August fund manager Allegro entered a master franchise agreement with Pizza Hut stores in a deal with the US parent company Yum!, including the appointment of a food-focused management team.

Earlier this week Allegro was reportedly closing in on collapsed pizza venture Eagle Boys, posing a potential challenge to rival Domino’s Pizza Enterprises.

Ferrier Hodgson said the Keystone sale timeline has been extended to account for the number of parties interested.

“Subject to negotiations we expect to provide a further sale update in the coming weeks,” Morgan Kelly said in the statement.

SmartCompany contacted Quadrant Private Equity for comment on its interest in the Jamie’s Australia business but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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