Final bids for the whole or parts of the Gaucho business are due next week, with specialist turnaround investment vehicles believed to amongst its suitors, MCA understands.
It is thought that first round bids for the business, which last month revealed it was considering all its options, after initially hiring advisors to examine whether to close or sell its underperforming 22-strong CAU brand, took place last week, with final bids due next Tuesday (26 June).
Alchemy Partners, which specialises in investing in distressed and underperforming businesses; the London-based investment house Aurelius; and private equity firm Endless, are all understood to have run the rule over Gaucho.
The company’s ex-managing director Martin Williams, founder of M Restaurants, has also been previously linked with putting together a takeover package.
Last month, advisors KPMG’s mandate was broadened to solicit proposals from potential investors for the entire company, or parts of the business, which private equity group Equistone acquired at the start of 2016 for £100m.
Those close to the 16-strong Gaucho business continue to state that the brand is performing “in line” with the broader restaurants sector, and is not under threat of closure. However it is thought that company-wide EBITDA has fallen further below the £9.4m figure posted for the year to the end of 2016, and that a significant number of CAU sites were secured under cross guarantees with its more established sister brand.
The speed at which advisors have move from looking at options for the entire business rather than just CAU has also led to speculation that the company’s banking group, led by Lloyds is now controlling the process.
Last month, a source close to the business: “Potential investors will be asked to submit proposals for the business – these proposals could and are likely to take many forms, including but not limited to bids for all or part of the business. They are doing this to put the business on a viable long term footing – currently it is not. Gaucho is profitable across all sites, with good long term growth prospects and the latest two Gaucho openings outside London performing well, with scope for further rollout.”
In a statement, a Gaucho spokesman said: “Having completed a strategic review and engaged with key stakeholders, the directors have instructed advisers to commence an options process. The process aims to secure a viable long-term structure for the business. This may or may not lead to a sale.”
The initial review came a CAU was reportedly seeing double-digit declines in like-for-like revenues.