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Report: CPK may have a bidder

California Pizza Kitchen Inc. shares got a boost earlier this week from reports that private-equity firm American Securities Capital Partners was preparing a bid for the casual-dining chain.

Citing unidentified sources, the New York Post reported Wednesday that New York-based American Securities was in “advanced talks” with the Los Angeles-based chain and securing financing.

California Pizza Kitchen's share price jumped 9.6 percent on the news Wednesday to close at $18.38. On Thursday, the company shares fell slightly, closing at $18.35.

California Pizza Kitchen said in April that it had hired financial advisory firm Moelis & Company to look at a range of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value, including a possible sale or merger.

Spokeswomen for both CPK and American Securities on Thursday declined comment on the reports.

American Securities is known in the industry for its current investment in the Chicago-based Potbelly Sandwich Works chain. In the past, American Securities has also included among its investments the El Pollo Loco grilled chicken chain, based in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Caribbean Restaurants Inc., a franchisee of the Burger King brand in Puerto Rico.

The potential CPK deal follows a number of restaurant industry mergers and acquisitions this year, including the buyouts of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent company CKE Restaurants Inc. by Apollo Management; Wingstop Restaurants Inc. by Roark Capital Group; and Papa Murphy’s International by Lee Equity Partners.

In addition, private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital bought the On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina chain from Brinker International Inc.; and Sun Capital Partners acquired the Bar Louie Restaurants chain based in Glenview, Ill.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

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