PizzaExpress owner injects £80m to pay down debts

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

PizzaExpress owner injects £80m to pay down debts

Related tags: Pizza express, Debt, Restaurant, Casual dining

PizzaExpress’ Chinese owner Hony Capital is reportedly going to inject £80m of cash into the business in order to help prop up its balance sheet.

According to The Telegraph​, the cash will be used to pay down debt owed to bondholders as the business continues to grapple with tough trading conditions.

The casual dining chain is apparently also hoping to agree a £20m corporate overdraft due to be renewed in nine months.

PizzaExpress has £1.1bn of loans with some £665m of the debt formed of corporate bonds, which must be repaid starting in 2021.

It was reported last month that a handful of hedge funds, including CarVal and Cyrus Capital, had begun buying into the debt-laden dining chain’s heavily discounted corporate bonds​.

The Telegraph​ suggests these money managers could seek to wrestle control of the company, and cause fresh complications to what are already expected to be difficult restructuring plans.

Speculation has been growing around the future of PizzaExpress after reports it was preparing for debt talks with creditors​.

Questions around its viability last arose back in May, when it posted a pre-tax loss of £55m for 2018, while EBITDA fell 15% to £80.2m.

The company, which operates more than 600 restaurants worldwide, has been expanding in Asia following its sale to Chinese private equity group Hony Capital in 2014.

PizzaExpress responded to recent suggestions that two in every five of its restaurants are at risk of closure by saying that 95% of its estate in the UK and Ireland remained profitable​.

“There are no plans for closures outside the normal course of business,” it said.

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