Advantage Partners sells Red Lobster Japan

The Tokyo-based private equity firm has sold the seafood restaurant chain for an undisclosed amount.

Japanese private equity firm Advantage Partners has sold all shares of Red Lobster Japan to Tokyo-based restaurant operator CELUX for an undisclosed amount, a source told PEI Asia.

Advantage Partners declined to comment.

Red Lobster Japan is 100 percent owned by food chain operator REINS International, which is a subsidiary of Advantage Partners’ portfolio company Rex Holdings. REINS acquired Red Lobster Japan in February 2002 for an undisclosed amount from retail giant AEON.

Red Lobster is not the first planned divestment from the Rex Holdings portfolio.

In December last year, Advantage Partners received several bids for supermarket chain Seijo Ishii, which is owned by Rex Holdings. Among them, the highest bid at the time was an offer of more than ¥40 billion (€359.9 million; $475.5 million).

The source told PEI Asia today that there are currently four bidders for the supermarket chain with a “very strong” interest in the company. The final round of bids is due at the end of this month.

“Some candidates are trying to reach ¥45 billion to secure the first seat,” the source added.

According to a Reuters report in December, first-round bidders included private equity firms Bain Capital and CVC Capital Partners, as well as Japanese financial firm Orix Corp and Marunouchi Capital, a joint venture between Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Holdings.

Advantage Partners acquired a 92 percent stake in Rex Holdings for $505 million in December 2006.

In October last year, Advantage Partners reportedly hired Nomura Holdings to seek out an additional investor for its portfolio company Tokyo Star Bank. The extra capital could potentially be used to pay down debt from the original buyout, which took place in March 2008, according to a Reuters report which cited “four people with direct knowledge of the matter”.

Established in 1992, Tokyo-based Advantage has until recently invested predominately in Japanese assets. But in July last year, it acquired a 14 percent stake in Hong Kong-listed media services company Qin Jia Yuan Media Services for an undisclosed amount. Later in November, the firm paid an undisclosed sum to acquire telecommunications provider TeleGuam Holdings, which is based in the US Pacific island territory of Guam.

The firm opened its Hong Kong office in September 2007.