Private equity firms to purchase TGI Fridays

by Eric Schroeder
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NEW YORK — Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners have agreed to acquire TGI Fridays Restaurants from Minneapolis-based Carlson, a global hospitality and travel company. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but according to The Wall Street Journal, the deal values TGI Fridays at more than $800 million. The transaction is expected to close by July, subject to customary closing conditions.

“We are proud of the Fridays brand and strong marketplace momentum that has been created over the past nearly four decades,” said Trudy Rautio, president and CEO of Carlson. “This transaction is a win for all parties, and we are excited and confident that under Sentinel’s ownership Fridays will continue to experience significant growth and capitalize on new opportunities. For Carlson, this transaction frees up resources that the company can deploy to focus on and accelerate the growth of its hotel and travel businesses, at a time when significant opportunities exist in these markets.”

Carlson first announced its intent to explore “strategic alternatives” for TGI Fridays back in November 2013. At that time, Rautio said Carlson would look to capitalize on Fridays’ “strong marketplace momentum” by exploring a possible sale.

Carlson acquired TGI Fridays in 1975 when the brand had just 12 restaurants. Since that time TGI Fridays has grown to more than 900 restaurants in operation globally in 60 countries and reported system-wide sales of $2.7 billion in 2013. Nick Sheperd, president and CEO, will continue to lead TGI Fridays.

Sentinel, which will be TGI Fridays’ majority shareholder, has restaurant and franchising investment experience and a demonstrated ability to create independent businesses through corporate carve outs. The firm has completed numerous acquisitions of both franchisors and franchisees, including Checkers/Rally’s, Newk’s Eatery, Falcon Holdings, Huddle House and Southern California Pizza Co.

“We are very excited to partner with TGI Fridays’ outstanding management team,” said John McCormack, a Sentinel senior partner. “TGI Fridays is an iconic global brand with a long history of solid performance and a significant opportunity for future growth.”
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