September 10, 2013 / 8:17 PM / 4 years ago

Mexico's Alsea to buy Walmex restaurant chain for 8.2 billion pesos

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Alsea (ALSEA.MX), the operator behind Starbucks and Burger King in Mexico, said on Tuesday it will pay 8.2 billion pesos ($626.96 million) for Wal-Mart de Mexico's WALMEXV.MX restaurant unit.

Alsea is buying Walmex's 362 restaurants, including the popular Vips chain which sells Mexican breakfasts and dinners as well as hotcakes and cheeseburgers in a format similar to a U.S. diner.

Walmex decided to consider a sale after third parties expressed interest in the restaurants, a spokesman said in June.

Alsea, which also operates more upscale restaurants such as PF Chang's in Mexico, has been on a buying spree this year, making its first foray into retail in June.

The company said it will initially finance its purchase of the Vips chain through bank debt.

Alsea is also considering other financing possibilities that could help it reduce its leverage level below three times net debt to core profit, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to a statement.

Shares in Alsea closed down 1.72 percent at 34.84 ahead of the announcement, while Walmex shares closed up 2.49 percent at 34.95 pesos.

($1 = 13.0790 Mexican pesos)

Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Tim Dobbyn

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