Lloyds in pole position to eat up D&D London

Michael Bow
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TAXPAYER-backed Lloyds Banking Group has emerged as favourite in the race to take over the high end restaurant group D&D London, the firm behind City dining venues like Coq d’Argent, Le Pont de la Tour and The Grand Café at the Royal Exchange.

The bank, through its private equity vehicle LDC, is understood to be closing in on a deal brokered by investment house Rothschild to beat out rival UK private equity groups and high net worth individuals from overseas to takeover the company, valued at around £60m.

Sir Terence Conran set up what is now D&D, which also counts Almeida and Floridita in its portfolio of over 30 restaurants around the globe, in 1991. He owns a 51 per cent stake in the business, which will be sold in a deal. D&D chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena owns 31 per cent after a management buy-out in 2006, with private equity group Caird Capital holding the other 18 per cent.

It is understood that Gunewardena and management will retain their 31 per cent stake and continue to lead the business.

LDC most recently completed a £7.3m buy-out of HMV’s live music venues last week. LDC declined to comment. D&D could not be reached for comment.