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Buca to consider selling the company

MINNEAPOLIS Buca Inc., parent of the Buca di Beppo family-style Italian concept, said on Thursday that it would explore “strategic alternatives” that could include a recapitalization or sale of the company.

The company said it had retained Piper Jaffray & Co. to serve as its financial adviser in the process.

Buca, based here, owns and operates 91 Buca di Beppo restaurants. Like many of its full-service competitors, Buca has been struggling to maintain sales traction in what the company has called a challenging consumer environment.

For its most recent third quarter ended Sept. 30, Buca reported a $4.8 million loss, or 24 cents per share, in continuing operations, compared with a $5.1 million loss, or 24 cents per share, for the year-ago third quarter, results of which included a credit of 4 cents per share for an insurance-related settlement.

Restaurant sales increased slightly in the 2007 third quarter to $56.5 million, compared with $56.4 million a year earlier. Buca credited the boost to stronger lunch and to-go sales, as well as menu price increases.

Buca's market capitalization totals about $20.2 million. The company's stock price has traded so far this month near its 52-week low of 64 cents per share. Its 52-week high is $6.39 per share, which it reached in January 2007.

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