Comerci Restaurants Said to Draw Interest From Nexxus, Gigante

Controladora Comercial Mexicana SAB, the owner of almost 300 supermarkets and restaurants that is selling itself, has drawn interest in its California-brand eateries from at least two companies, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Nexxus Capital SA, the private-equity firm behind three Mexico initial public offerings since 2008, submitted a bid, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Grupo Gigante SAB, the operator of Panda Express Chinese food restaurants and Petco animal-supply stores, is considering a bid and has held talks with Comercial Mexicana, another person said.

Comerci, as the company is known, is working with Rothschild to find a buyer, people familiar with the situation said last month. The Mexico City-based retailer has a market value of about 59.7 billion pesos ($4.5 billion). In addition to 200 stores with 1.27 million square meters (13.7 million square feet) of sales space, the company runs 62 California restaurants and six Beer Factory locations, with a combined 15,745 seats, according to a Feb. 26 fourth-quarter report on its website.

Gigante’s talks with Comerci were separate from the company’s broader efforts to sell its core supermarket business, one of the people said.

Comerci declined to comment on the transaction in an e-mailed response to questions, as did Nexxus Capital. Representatives for Gigante and Rothschild didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Mexico newspaper Reforma previously reported that Gigante may buy Comerci’s California restaurants.

Comerci said in a statement on Jan. 17 that it held preliminary discussions with some foreign and Mexican groups as it considered a sale or strategic partnership. The company’s shares have surged 24-fold from a record low in October 2008, when the company filed for bankruptcy protection after losses on wrong-way currency bets.

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