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UK chain PizzaExpress sold to Chinese equity firm

British restaurant operator Gondola Group on Saturday revealed it had agreed to sell its PizzaExpress chain to a Chinese private equity company for 900 million pounds (US$1.53 billion, 1.13 billion euros).

LONDON: British restaurant operator Gondola Group on Saturday revealed it had agreed to sell its PizzaExpress chain to a Chinese private equity company for 900 million pounds (US$1.53 billion, 1.13 billion euros).

Gondola said it would sell the fast-food chain, which has 436 outlets in Britain and 68 around the world, to Hony Capital in what it called the largest deal in the European restaurant sector in the past five years.

Hony chief executive John Zhao said his company was "delighted to have acquired PizzaExpress, a well-established and exciting brand.

"With PizzaExpress, we have the opportunity to leverage our local expertise to accelerate its growth in the Chinese market, as well as to continue to drive its business forward in the UK," he added.

Harvey Smyth, chief executive of Gondola Group, insisted PizzaExpress had a strong future.

"PizzaExpress is stronger than ever and great credit for this goes to the teams there, who leave Gondola with our thanks and best wishes for the future," he said.

PizzaExpress chief executive Richard Hodgson called the deal "a very positive development"

"Asia is a key part of our future growth strategy and Hony's expertise in this region will be invaluable," he explained. "We are looking forward to working with them on this as well as our ambitious UK growth plans."

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