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Sbarro Said to Be Negotiating Higher Bid Than Rejected Deal

A Sbarro Inc. employee, spins pizza dough in the air at a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Photographer: Jay LaPrete/Bloomberg
A Sbarro Inc. employee, spins pizza dough in the air at a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Photographer: Jay LaPrete/Bloomberg

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Sbarro Inc., a chain of fast-food Italian restaurants, is negotiating an offer that’s more valuable than the plan it entered bankruptcy with in April, a person familiar with the matter said.

The offer that’s being negotiated is from a “strategic” buyer, not a private equity or other financial firm, the person said.

Sbarro ended its plan-support agreement and equity commitment accord with MidOcean Partners and Ares Corporate Opportunities Fund II LP to explore “other strategic alternatives,” according to a statement today.

Sbarro, based in Melville, New York, is talking to an entity that may offer to buy the entire chain in a deal worth more than the original proposal to give itself to creditors in exchange for cutting its debt, said the person, who declined to be identified because details about the talks are private. That deal included a $30 million rights offering.

Sbarro, led by interim Chief Executive Officer Nicholas McGrane, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 4. The company, which owns or franchises more than 1,000 fast-food Italian restaurants, said the eateries will operate as usual.

Best Interests

“We believe it is in the best interest of all stakeholders for the company to dedicate its resources to exploring all available value maximizing alternatives,” McGrane said in a statement. The company said the entity it is talking to is a “qualified bidder.” Bankruptcy courts use that term to distinguish between investors who have been cleared to participate in an auction and those who have not.

The company listed $51.5 million in assets and $461 million in debts in court records dated May 4. Sbarro reported income of $34.3 million so far this year and $155.4 million for 2010.

Lenders holding debt backed by collateral are owed $207.2 million, while creditors with unsecured claims are owed $253.6 million, according to the May 4 statement of financial affairs.

The company’s 10 3/8ths percent bonds due in 2015 last traded yesterday at 10 cents on the dollar, down 9.5 cents, or nearly 49 percent, from May 10, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Sbarro is still negotiating with its pre-petition creditors to pursue a reorganization plan, according to the statement.

The Sbarro family founded the company as a single Italian delicatessen more than half a century ago in Brooklyn, New York, according to its website. The family opened its first mall location about a decade later. MidOcean Partners bought Sbarro in 2007.

The case is In re Sbarro, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan), 11-11527.

To contact the reporters on this story: Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at schurch3@bloomberg.net; Cecile Vannucci in New York at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net; Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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