Americana Shares Suspended in Kuwait on Talks With Savola

Shares in Kuwait Food Co., the Middle East operator of KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants, were suspended from trading on the Kuwait Stock Exchange today after Saudi Arabia’s Savola Group said it had held talks to buy a stake in the company.

Kuwait Food -- better known as Americana -- rose as much as 3.2 percent, the most since July 3, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shares were 2.6 percent higher when they were suspended by the Kuwait stock exchange, which is now closed for trading.

Savola, a food producer with a market value of about $12 billion, today confirmed a Bloomberg report that it may buy a stake in Americana. The Saudi Arabian company has signed a confidentiality pact with the management of Americana and the talks haven’t led to a “fundamental development” yet, according to a statement to Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange.

Buyout firms Advent International Corp. and TPG Capital are also bidding for Americana, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News yesterday. KKR & Co. and CVC Capital Partners Ltd. have teamed up to make a joint offer, the people said, adding Americana may fetch more than $4 billion in a sale.

Americana, which is controlled by Kuwait’s Al-Kharafi family, was founded in 1964, and also manufactures produce including California Garden beans and Farm Frites frozen vegetables. The Kharafi family, which has interests in the construction, telecommunications and financial sectors, owns 66.8 percent of Americana, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The benchmark KSE Price Index rose 0.2 percent at its 12:30 p.m. close in Kuwait City.