WAGAMAMA’S owner has been gobbled up in a £701million takeover that ends a year-long battle with activist investors.

The Restaurant Group agreed to a 65p-a-share offer from US private equity firm Apollo, documents revealed yesterday.

Wagamamma's owner has been gobbled up in a £701million takeover that ends a year-long battle with activist investors

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Wagamamma’s owner has been gobbled up in a £701million takeover that ends a year-long battle with activist investorsCredit: Wagamama

Apollo, which previously lost battles to buy Asda and Morrisons, had made three bids before reaching a deal with TRG’s board.

It is understood Apollo only approached TRG after it offloaded the loss-making Frankie & Benny’s eateries for a nominal £1 to the owner of CafeRouge.

The takeover already has the support of activist investors Oasis, which has a 17.8 per cent stake, and Irenic Capital.

Both stand to make big profits on the deal as they bought in when TRG was trading at just 40p-a-share in the cost-of-living crisis.

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They have been jostling TRG for the past year to break up the business.

Analysts at Stifel said the top six shareholders, around 20 per cent of the company, backed the deal.

Shares in TRG jumped by 36 per cent to 65.8p but sources downplayed chances of a higher offer.

Chief exec Andy Hornby will be staying on to lead the restaurant business but was excluded from talks with Apollo because of his past career there.

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Before joining TRG Mr Hornby, who used to be the boss of bust bank HBOS, ran Apollo-owned gambling firm Gala Coral.

TRG chairman Ken Hanna, who steps down next year, said Apollo’s bid offered investors certainty.

Markets have taken a dim view of the leisure business amid fears about weaker consumer spending, but private equity is still snapping up assets.

Roark Capital bought sandwich chain Subway in August for £7.76billion and Italy’s Big Mamma Group sold a stake to buyout firm McWin earlier this month.

£21M KPMG RAP

KPMG has been fined £21million after its book- keeping of bust construction firm Carillion was called a “textbook case study in failure”.

The Financial Reporting Council said KPMG’s audit bloopers were “exceptional”.

Carillion went into liquidation in January 2018 owing over £1billion.

It emerged that KPMG partner Peter Meehan had told junior staff to sign off papers that hadn’t been checked. Current boss Jon Holt said he “cannot defend” the work on Carillion.

EASY’S JET SPREE

EASYJET is to buy 157 new planes, almost a decade after its aircraft purchases sparked a major battle with founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

In 2013 Sir Stelios fought against growth plans. In 2022 he called a truce and backed the purchase of new aircraft.

After record profits and bumper holiday bookings EasyJet said it is buying the planes from Airbus and rights to another 100 in a £16.29billion deal.

The budget airline said that it will make up to £670million of pre-tax profits this year.

TESCO IN ‘PROTECT STAFF’ BID

THE boss of Tesco is backing a petition started by one of his staff calling for greater protection amid soaring levels of violence against retail workers.

Retailers are campaigning for violence and abuse against shopworkers to be a specific offence in England and Wales, as it is in Scotland.

Tesco boss Jason Tarry is backing a petition started by one of his staff calling for greater protection amid soaring levels of violence against retail workers

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Tesco boss Jason Tarry is backing a petition started by one of his staff calling for greater protection amid soaring levels of violence against retail workers

The number of violence and abuse cases has doubled from more than 450 a day before the pandemic to over 850 last year — while shoplifting has soared by more than a quarter.

The petition has 8,000 signatures and can be debated in parliament if it gets 100,000.

Tesco UK chief executive Jason Tarry is urging Sun readers to sign the petition, at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/647093.

“Creating a standalone offence not only sends a strong message to people who abuse and attack shopworkers, but also makes it clear to shopworkers that as a nation we take protecting them seriously,” Tarry says

BOOTS IS BOOSTED

STRONG sales of upmarket skincare products, teeth-whitening kits and a new No.7 anti-ageing range helped to lift sales at Boots by 12 per cent over the past three months.

The health and beauty retailer said its market share had been boosted by more shoppers visiting its stores and website.

The news comes as US parent company Walgreens said it would have to slash $1billion of costs next year and shut unprofitable stores.

EPSTEIN PAL STALEY IN BAN

THE former boss of Barclays has been hit with a £1.8million fine and banned from holding a senior job in financial services after misleading City watchdogs about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Jes Staley has been hit with a £1.8million fine and banned from holding a senior job in financial services

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Jes Staley has been hit with a £1.8million fine and banned from holding a senior job in financial servicesCredit: AFP and licensors

Jes Staley was forced to resign from Barclays in 2021 after regulators probed his links with the financier, who died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking.

A US court case this year involving Mr Staley’s previous employer, JP Morgan, included evidence that he had held discussions with Epstein in which they referred to young women by the names of Disney princesses.

Another email from Staley to Epstein read: “I deeply appreciate our friendship. I have few so profound.”

The Financial Conduct Authority said this email was evidence Mr Staley had misled Barclays’ board and the regulator by claiming that he did not have a close relationship.

The FCA has already censured Mr Staley and fined him £642,000 in 2018 for repeatedly trying to identify a whistleblower at Barclays.

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The FCA said: “A chief executive needs to exercise sound judgment and set an example. It is right to prevent him from holding a senior position if we cannot rely on him to act with integrity by disclosing uncomfortable truths about his close personal relationship with Mr Epstein.”

Mr Staley said he was “disappointed” by the decision and will appeal.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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