Golden Gate Capital buys Macaroni Grill for $132m

The San Francisco private equity firm has purchased a majority interest in the Italian restaurant chain from casual dining operator Brinker International. Brinker will retain a 19.9% stake in the chain, which it had been shopping for nearly a year.

Private equity firm Golden Gate Capital has purchased a majority stake in Italian restaurant chain Romano's Macaroni Grill for $132 million (€90 million).

The San Francisco-based firm is spinning out the popular franchise from publicly-listed Brinker International, which will retain a 19.9 percent interest in the franchised brand. The deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, according to a statement released by Brinker.

Golden Gate will acquire more than 220 Macaroni Grill restaurants worldwide, the vast majority of which are located throughout the US, often in suburban retail shopping centres.

Dallas-based Brinker has been shopping Macaroni Grill since last summer, and over the last year has shut 27 of its restaurants. Hurt by rising commodity prices and shrinking consumer spending, Macaroni Grill's sales last quarter were down 5.7 percent from a year before, according a Brinker's earnings report.

Brinker owns and operates several suburban restaurant chains including Chili's Bar & Grill, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and Maggiano's Little Italy.

Golden Gate will be adding Macaroni Grill to its consumer and retail portfolio, which is heavily geared towards branded apparel outlets and direct marketing firms. The firm's current portfolio includes clothing retailers Express and Venus and online and catalog merchandiser Norm Thompson Outfitters.

The firm, traditionally associated with technology-related investments, manages roughly $9 billion in assets. Golden Gate could not be reached for comment at press time.