Golden Gate Capital exits investment after six years
Global seafood supplier Thai Union Group and a consortium of investors have acquired the remaining stake of Red Lobster Seafood Company from Golden Gate Capital. These investors include high-profile international restaurant executives and the management team of Red Lobster. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Thai Union will join these investors in forming Seafood Alliance, a new company to operate Red Lobster. Paul Kenny and Rit Thirakomen, who are experienced restaurant industry executives, will lead the venture. Thai Union made a strategic investment of $575M in Orlando, Fla.-based Red Lobster in 2016. It also added two members to the Red Lobster Board of Directors at the time.
Red Lobster is sure to benefit from the experience of Kenny and Thirakomen. Kenny was previously chief executive of one of the largest restaurant companies, Minor Food. He was head of the operator of more than 2,000 units in 27 countries, including Riverside, Thai Express, Bonchon, the Pizza Company and several other brands.
And Thirakomen leads Thai restaurant chain MK Restaurant Group as its controlling shareholder, and holds the position of chairman and chief executive.
In 2014, Golden Gate Capital purchased the Red Lobster chain from Darden Restaurants for $2.1B in cash.
Thiraphong Chansiri, Thai Union president and chief executive, said, “As an anchor investor in Red Lobster since 2016, we are excited to confirm our commitment to the business, which reflects our utmost confidence in management and the company’s strategy of serving top quality seafood for a great value. The Red Lobster brand is strong, with unmatched awareness and millions of loyal guests, and we believe it has tremendous long-term potential.”
Guggenheim is serving as financial advisor for Golden Capital, while Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Nob Hill Law Group, P.C. advised the private equity firm. PJ Solomon served as financial advisor to Thai Union, with Allen & Overy serving as its legal advisor.
“We are thrilled to deepen our relationship with Thai Union, a long-term strategic supplier to Red Lobster and an investment partner for the last four years,” said Kim Lopdrup, chief executive of Red Lobster. “Our organization will also benefit from the tremendous international restaurant and hospitality expertise brought by Seafood Alliance. I want to thank Golden Gate Capital for their unwavering support over the past six years and particularly over the past five months.”
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