Carlson, the US-based hotel and restaurant chain, has acquired the remaining 60% stake in TGI Friday’s in the UK for $50m (£31.96m). The private group – which already owns 40% of the UK operation – purchased the stake from AAC Capital Partners, the private equity firm that replaced Whitbread when it exited the operator three years ago. Carlson said the deal was part of a $100m investment strategy for the brand in the UK in the next five years. The group also aims to expand its global portfolio of TGI Friday’s by 160 to nearly 1,100 by 2015. Hubert Joly, president and chief executive officer of Carlson, said: “We are confident that T.G.I. Friday’s in the UK will continue to perform well for our company and our guests, and we believe the brand’s strong momentum provides the potential for continued global expansion.” Nick Shepherd, president and chief executive of Carlson Restaurants, said the company had been very pleased with “the performance of our UK business operations.” TGI Friday’s in the UK had been subject of rumours regarding a takeover for some time. The move by Carlson comes after it was revealed the UK operation had seen a 50% upturn in annual underlying profits to £10.2m, on sales up 7.9% to £99.5m. The latest figures – for the year 31 December 2009 – also revealed that the group was debt free after repaying a secured loan of £9.5m, leaving it with net cash of £2.5m.