Bain’s Skylark Said to Work With Nomura, BofA for IPO

Skylark Co., the Japanese restaurant operator controlled by Bain Capital LLC, is working with Nomura Holdings Inc. and Bank of America Corp. to prepare its initial public offering, said two people familiar with the situation.

Skylark plans to go public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange later this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. The company, which Boston-based Bain bought for 160 billion yen ($1.6 billion) in 2011, hasn’t made a final decision on the size of the offering, they said.

Japanese stocks were the best performers in the developed world over the past year, encouraging buyout firms such as Bain and Cerberus Capital Management LP to recoup investments through first-time share sales. Nomura, the country’s No. 1 equity underwriter in 2013, expects IPOs will almost double to 1 trillion yen this year.

Junichi Kawaminami, a spokesman for Skylark, declined to comment, as did Nomura spokesman Kenji Yamashita and Bank of America spokesman Tsukasa Noda.

Skylark may later select more banks to join the offering, which will be marketed to both Japanese and overseas investors, the people said. The company, which operates Gusto and Jonathan’s family-style restaurants, employs about 5,600 people.

McDonald’s Executive

Last year, Skylark appointed former McDonald’s Corp. President Ralph Alvarez as chairman to help expand its operations. The 51-year-old company had revenue of 329.5 billion yen in 2012.

Skylark delisted from the Tokyo bourse in 2006, following a 295 billion-yen management buyout led by Nomura’s principal finance unit and CVC Capital Partners Ltd., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bain, which manages over $70 billion in assets, bought Skylark from the group in 2011.

As many as 80 companies in industries such as information technology, manufacturing and solar energy may list in Tokyo this year, up from 58 in 2013, Hiroshi Yoshihara, head of Nomura’s IPO department, said in a Jan. 21 interview.

Seibu Holdings Inc., part-owned by Cerberus, plans to list on the Tokyo bourse as early as April, three people familiar with the matter said this month.

(Updates with details of management buyout in seventh paragraph.)
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