Houlihan's Restaurants up for sale-sources

Mon May 14, 2012 10:38am EDT

* Houlihan's hires Piper Jaffray for advice

* Restaurant chain could be worth nearly $100 mln

* Private equity, restaurants in talks with company

By Olivia Oran and Luisa Beltran

May 14 (Reuters) - Casual dining chain Houlihan's Restaurants Inc i s in talks with private equity firms and other restaurant companies to sell itself in a deal that could fetch nearly $100 million, sou rces familiar with the situation said.

The company's owner, private equity firm Goldner Hawn Johnson Morrison, h as hired Piper Jaffray Cos to advise on the sale, the sources said.

Goldner Hawn and Leakwood, Kansas -based Houlihan's declined to comment. Piper Jaffray could not be reached for a comment.

Houlihan's generated $145 million in revenue in 2011, operating 46 corporate and 45 franchised restaurants under the Houlihan's, Devon and J. Gilbert's brands, according to Goldner Hawn's web site.

Houlihan's has about $15 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) -- a measure of cash flow -- according to one source. The company might sell for 5.5 to 6.5 times EBITDA, said the source -- meaning the deal could be valued at as much as $97.5 million.

Financial buyers have typically been more active in the restaurant sector, say investment bankers, aside from strategic players like Landry's Inc and Darden Restaurants Inc .

Earlier this month, private equity firm Centerbridge Partners acquired Asian-themed bistro P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc for $1.1 billion.

Other recent deals included Golden Gate Capital's $470 million buyout of California Pizza Kitchen Inc and Roark Capital's takeout of Arby's Restaurant Group for $430 million.

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