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Buy-out Firm Leads in Hard Rock Cafe Sale

Permira, a buyout firm, is leading the pack this early on, having expressed its intention of buying Rank owned Hard Rock Cafe, the chain of music memorabilia-themed restaurants. Hard Rock's sale, if the buyout would push through, would leave Rank with its remaining businesses, which is the gaming side of it, namely Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casino, which with the relaxation of gaming laws in Britain, will greatly benefit from it.

The negotiation between the two started almost two months ago after a private equity firm approached Rank about their interests in Hard Rock.

Mecca Bingo and Blue Square online-betting operations are also two of the businesses that Rank owns. The company is holding an assessment of its Hard Rock business, which included hotels and casinos. The sale of Hard Rock, with the supervision of Merrill Lynch could earned Rank as much more than 500 million pounds.

Permira's interest in Hard Rock roots in its desire to expand their influence in the United States where most of Hard Rock's branches are.

For the first time in many months, a trading update for Hard Rock just last week showed strong results with its like-for-like reveneue up by a high 8% in the company-operated branches.

When asked for their comment, both Rank and Permira declined to talked.

Hard Rock Cafes first opened in 1971 in Piccadilly and as of now, there are 120 outlets worldwide situated in more than 40 countries. 70 of the Hard Rock Cafes are owned by Rank while the rest are operated by franchisees.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Karen Jacobs

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