Houlihan Lokey Advises PizzaExpress Group

Houlihan Lokey is pleased to announce that PizzaExpress Group (PizzaExpress) has completed its £735 million balance sheet restructuring on 5 November 2020 by means of the restructuring plan under the new Part 26A of the UK Companies Act, including a c. £145 million new-money financing from its existing senior-secured noteholders.

Founded by Peter Boizot in Soho in 1965, PizzaExpress now has around 500 restaurants globally, including 377 PizzaExpress pizzerias in the UK, 19 in Ireland, 25 in Hong Kong, 14 in the United Arab Emirates, five in Singapore, and 49 international sites operated by franchisees.

The completion of this transaction is a significant milestone for PizzaExpress and represents the culmination of a financial and operational restructuring that addresses the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19. It also provides the group with a robust platform to deliver its FutureExpress programme.

The restructuring has secured the following major benefits for PizzaExpress:

  • A comprehensive deleveraging reducing its total indebtedness by c. £1 billion (comprising a reduction of its external debt from £735 million to £319 million and a write-off of shareholder loans of c. £538 million).
  • New super-senior financing of £144 million provided by the senior-secured noteholder.
  • An extension of debt maturities to 2025.
  • The successful implementation of a CVA to affect an operational restructuring of UK leasehold liabilities.
  • A divestment of its Mainland China business.
  • Transfer of its ownership to the holders of the senior-secured notes.

The transaction was fully executed and implemented by means of a restructuring plan under the new Part 26A of the UK Companies Act. The High Court of Justice of England and Wales sanctioned the restructuring plan at a hearing held on 29 October 2020. PizzaExpress took the necessary steps to make use of the cross-class cramdown mechanism built into the new English law restructuring plan. However, this was not required, due to the overwhelming support across all classes.

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