Giuliano Lotto and his Park Place Capital associates, who own a combined 29.5% of Signature Restaurants, have rejected the 60p-a-share MBO offer from the chain's management, and hinted they might make their own bid

In an official statement, Park Place Capital said it was "considering its options", but it had "no present intention" of accepting the management's offer for Signature, which runs the Belgo mussels-and-beer chain, Strada pizza restaurants and the upmarket Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheeky. Park Place said it would make a further announcement "in due course".

Lotto owns 12 restaurants including the A to Z Restaurants chain and the upmarket Aubergine and L'Oranger in London.

The MBO offer, involving chairman Luke Johnson, chief executive Andrew Bassadone and finance director Nicholas Fiddler and being made through a vehicle called Pinco 1771, was made after Signature reported a drop in underlying profits to £3.1m from £4.3m in 2001. It blamed difficult trading conditions particularly in central London. Post-exceptional pre-tax profits came in at £2.3m, against a loss of £1.3m last year. Total sales for the 12 months up to June 30 were 1.4% down at £39.4m.

So far the MBO has received irrevocable undertakings from shareholders representing 20.3% of its issued share capital, though 6.31% of that is only binding unless a competing offer of 70p per share or more is announced by 22 October. Johnson has a 4.8% stake in the company.