Apax Partners buys up Golden Jaguar chain

Private equity firm Apax Partners announced Tuesday that it has bought Chinese restaurant chain Golden Jaguar.

The company didn’t disclose financial details of the acquisition, but according to a report Tuesday from Dow Jones Newswires, the deal was worth about $250 million.

Golden Jaguar was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Shanghai with branches in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Shenzhen and other cities. Meals at the buffet-style restaurants cost about 200 yuan ($31) per customer.

Golden Jaguar was reported at the end of February to be seeking around $200 million from an initial public offering in Hong Kong in the second half of this year. Observers are baffled as to why Golden Jaguar would sell to Apax Partners if it wants to go public.

Feng Po, an industry watcher with Beijing-based research institute ChinaVenture, told the Global Times on Wednesday that it’s possible that Golden Jaguar may have to overcome some hurdles in order to be able to go public in Hong Kong and wants support from Apax along the way.

“Golden Jaguar has an attractive business model and a proven track record. We believe there are substantial opportunities to extend the company’s footprint across China while continually improving operational performance in the years to come,” Richard Zhang, head of Apax China, said in the firm’s press release Tuesday.

“Overseas groups are focused on China’s continued domestic consumption growth and are eyeing China’s catering industry. They want to grasp retail opportunities and capture more consumers,” Feng said.

Yan Minghang, a catering industry analyst with CIC Industry Research Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday, “It’s good for Golden Jaguar to learn from advanced experiences overseas in management and also operations, which will help accelerate business growth.”

Many domestic catering companies ignore management and quality as they scale up, Yan said.

“There are also no unified standards for chain companies, which leads to difficulties in operations and management,” Yan said.

Apax has widespread experience in retail and consumer business, having invested in brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, the marketing services provider Advantage Sales & Marketing, big dairy products distributor Tnuva and fashion retailer Takko.

Global Times

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