Alain Ducasse Agrees to Sell a 10% Stake to Elior

  • Ducasse, Elior to work together to bid on concessions
  • Elior added to U.S. business via acquisition of Cura

Alain Ducasse, who operates Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, is teaming up with a catering company that provides meals to British sailors and French schoolchildren as the chef prepares to open new venues in Versailles and Paris.

Ducasse will sell a stake of about 10 percent in his company, Alain Ducasse Entreprise, to Groupe Elior SCA, and the two will work in partnership on culinary consulting, bidding on concessions and creating catering concepts, Elior and Ducasse said in a statement Monday. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed in the statement, and representatives for the companies declined to comment.

The partnership will help the French-born chef carry out planned openings, including in Versailles, home of the former royal palace, and in the historic Les Halles neighborhood in central Paris, according to the statement. For Elior, which sold shares in an initial public offering last year, the venture will help boost its high-end offering.

“The deal will help Elior go up-market while providing Ducasse with financial security,” said Matthias Desmarais, an analyst at Oddo & Cie in Paris. “By introducing Ducasse in its branding environment, Elior is following the steps of its competitors which have already made alliances with renowned chefs, even as the financial impact will probably be limited.”

Elior, which had sales of 5.3 billion euros ($6 billion) last year, provides food service for the U.K.’s largest naval base, in Portsmouth, England, and the elementary and nursery schools in the French city of Lyon, among other clients. The company operates 47 restaurants and points of sale at Madrid’s Barajas airport and expanded into the U.S. in 2013 by purchasing a caterer serving schools, health facilities and prisons.

Elior gained 1.1 percent to 17.70 euros at 1:20 p.m. in Paris, giving the company a market value of 3 billion euros.

Ducasse, 59, already works with one of Elior’s competitors, Sodexo SA. The chef operates the Jules Verne restaurant on the Eiffel Tower in Paris with Sodexo. The chef made his international reputation through the Louis XV restaurant in the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. Ducasse, who renounced his French passport to become a citizen of Monaco, runs 24 restaurants and bistros, 12 of which have been awarded at least one Michelin star. He also operates inns, cooking schools and a food consulting business.

Elior last month said it targets annual organic sales growth of 3 percent on average over the 2016-2020 period and that it will spend 1 billion euros in acquisitions. The company last week bought Cura Hospitality Inc., a U.S. provider of dining services to retirement homes.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to show 12 restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars.)

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