* Deal worth “several hundred millions” of dollars - WSJ
* Apple American has 269 restaurants - WSJ
PHILADELPHIA, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (GS.N) private equity arm is near a deal to buy the largest U.S. franchisee of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar restaurants, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
GS Capital Partners’ deal for the Apple American Group is worth “several hundred millions” of dollars, the newspaper said in its online edition.
Apple American has 269 restaurants, 16,000 employees, 2010 sales of $665 million. The Weston Presidio company has owned Apple American since 2005, the newspaper said.
GS Capital and Apple American could not be immediately reached for comment.
GS Capital has a history with the franchisee, which it previously owned.
In 2001, Goldman invested $50 million into Apple American to fund the acquisition of 73 Applebee’s restaurants, the newspaper said. In 2005, Weston Presidio bought Apple American from GS Capital.
The franchisee was founded in 1998 by its Chairman and Chief Executive Greg Flynn, who previously worked at Goldman Sachs, the newspaper said.
A deal would be latest in the casual dining space. Last year, 3G Capital Management acquired Burger King Holdings Inc for about $3.3 billion, while CKE Restaurants was acquired by an affiliate of private equity firm Apollo Management LLC for about $700 million.
Other restaurant assets are currently on the block.
In January, Wendy's/Arby's Restaurants LLC [WEN.UL] said it was seeking buyers for its Arby's unit. YUM Brands (YUM.N), meanwhile, is selling its Long John Silver's and A&W All-American Food Restaurants chains. (Reporting by Jessica Hall; Editing by Tim Dobbyn) (For more M&A news and our DealZone blog, go to here)