British private equity firm TDR Capital was yesterday said to have launched a secret bid to buy back PizzaExpress, in which it owned a stake in between 2003 and 2007, amid takeover interest from China.
Sky News reported that TDR Capital was one of a number of parties which this week tabled offers to buy the restaurant chain.
Reports of TDR's interest came as the auction of PizzaExpress, which is the largest subsidiary of chain restaurant owner Gondola, enters its closing stages.
Sky News reported in June that Chinese investment firm Hony Capital had approached a number of UK and US buyout funds about possibly of tabling a joint bid for PizzaExpress.
Sources said that Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate which has a stake in Club Mediterranee, the French holiday company, and Citic Capital Partners, another major Beijing-based fund, were also watching the PizzaExpress auction.