Max & Erma’s sold to Pittsburgh restaurant vet

COLUMBUS Ohio Max & Erma's Restaurants Inc., parent of the 107-unit namesake casual-dining brand, has agreed to be acquired for about $10.2 million by G&R Acquisition Inc., a holding of Pittsburgh restaurateur Gary Reinert Sr.

The boards of Max & Erma’s and G&R unanimously approved the $4-per-share buyout, which represents a 37-percent premium over Max & Erma's closing price of $2.92 on Friday. Principal stockholders who collectively own about 45 percent of the outstanding shares of Max & Erma’s stock have agreed to vote their shares in favor of the transaction, according to a company statement.

Rob Lindeman, president and chief executive of Max & Erma’s, said in the statement that the going-private transaction “creates value and liquidity for our stockholders and a recapitalization, which will allow us to continue building the Max & Erma’s brand. The transaction will allow us to focus our resources on the business and avoid the costly and complex requirements of being a public company.”

Max & Erma’s current management is expected to remain in place. The company, which owns and operates 79 restaurants and franchises 28 others, began looking for a buyer last year. Revenue for fiscal 2007 was $174.9 million, down 3 percent from the previous year. The company reported a net loss of $3.5 million for 2007.