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P.F. Chang's restaurant chain goes private for $1.1 billion

Restaurant and Catering IndustryRestaurantsLifestyle and LeisureDining and DrinkingBusiness

Asian-themed restauranteur P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. will go private for $1.1 billion in a deal with private equity firm Centerbridge Partners after attempting to refresh its image and offerings.

The Scottsdale, Ariz., company, which operates its namesake upscale casual dining spots as well as fast-casual Pei Wei Asian Diners, has struggled to catch up to competitors who are now enjoying post-recession sales and traffic highs.

Last month, it introduced a new lunch menu. It has revamped many of its stores. It offered promotions such as giveaways and discounts on "Tax Day" and Chinese New Year. In February, it hopped on the healthful, local and international food trend by buying an ownership stake in True Food Kitchen.

Still, P.F. Chang’s first-quarter earnings, which the company announced Tuesday, slumped 41%. Its profit tumbled to $6.3 million, or 30 cents a share, from $10.6 million, or 46 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Revenue ticked up to $318.9 million from $317.4 million even as a drop in customers caused same-store sales to slide 0.6% at P.F. Chang's restaurants and 1.7% at Pei Wei.

New York-based Centerbridge will acquire the chain for $51.50 a share, a 30% premium over its average closing price in April.

P.F. Chang’s will be able to solicit better offers until the end of May. Otherwise, the deal is expected to close by the end of the third quarter.

“We are confident that being a private company will provide us with greater flexibility to focus on our long-term strategic plan of elevating our guest experience, enhancing our value proposition, growing traffic and improving the performance of our brands,” P.F. Chang Chief Executive Rick Federico said in a statement.

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