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PizzaExpress Markets 610 Million Pounds of Bonds to Fund Buyout

U.K. restaurant chain PizzaExpress Ltd. is meeting European investors today as it plans to sell 610 million pounds ($1 billion) of bonds to fund its leveraged buyout.

The company is seeking to issue secured fixed- and floating-rate notes as well as unsecured fixed-rate notes, according to a person familiar with the matter. The secured notes may be rated five levels below investment grade, while the unsecured bonds may be ranked two steps lower, the person said.

Proceeds from the sale will help fund PizzaExpress’s acquisition by Chinese private-equity firm Hony Capital Ltd. from Gondola Group Ltd., owned by London-based Cinven Ltd. The average yield investors demand to hold high-yield bonds in pounds jumped 22 basis points this month to 5.4 percent, the highest in more than five months, Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data show.

The company will meet investors in Europe until July 25 and Hong Kong-based buyers on July 28 and plans to sell the notes through two units, Twinkle Pizza Plc and Twinkle Pizza Holdings Plc, the person said. The meetings are being held in London today and tomorrow, in Frankfurt and Amsterdam on Thursday and Paris on Friday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are joint bookrunners on the deal while Bank of China Ltd. acts as co-manager.

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