Buyout firm to acquire California Pizza Kitchen

by Eric Schroeder
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LOS ANGELES — Golden Gate Capital Corp. has agreed to acquire California Pizza Kitchen Inc. for $18.50 per share, or approximately $470 million. The purchase price represents an 11% premium to the closing price of $16.71 on May 24, the day before the acquisition was announced. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

Founded in 1985 by co-chief executive officers Larry Flax and Richard Rosenfield, California Pizza Kitchen operates 265 restaurants and has a licensing arrangement with Nestle USA to manufacture and distribute a line of California Pizza Kitchen frozen products. The company began reviewing strategic options in February 2010 with Moelis & Co.

“This announcement represents a very positive outcome for our stockholders, and we believe it is also a great development for our employees, guests and business partners,” Mr. Flax and Mr. Rosenfield said. “We are very excited as we open a new chapter in the very successful history of CPK. Golden Gate Capital is a leading investor in the restaurant industry, with a proven track record as a value-added partner to its portfolio companies, and we believe that its significant commitment and experience in the sector will benefit all of our stakeholders.”

Josh Olshansky, managing director with Golden Gate Capital, said California Pizza is “an ideal fit with our long-term oriented approach to investing.”

“We are very pleased to partner with the company to continue to invest in the business for the benefit of all its guests, employees and partners,” Mr. Olshansky said.

Under the terms of the agreement, an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital will commence a tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of California Pizza no later than June 8, 2011. Golden Gate’s portfolio also includes Romano’s Macaroni Grill and On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina.

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