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Smith & Wollensky shareholders approve Valenti deal

NEW YORK Shareholders of the publicly held Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group Inc. have agreed to sell the luxury steakhouse brand to a consortium consisting of Patina Restaurant Group principals Nick Valenti and Joachim Splichal and Bunker Hill Capital LP.

The consortium agreed to pay $11 per share, or approximately $98 million for the eight-unit fine-dining company.

SWRG had been the target of a bidding war earlier this year between Patina Restaurant Group here and Landry’s Restaurants Inc. in Houston. Landry’s had initially offered to acquire the steakhouse company for $7.50 a share. The privately held Patina Restaurant Group countered the offer with a bid of $9.25 per share, or about $79.6 million.

That bid, which would have enabled SWRG chief executive Alan Stillman to buy back certain of the company’s New York properties and management contracts, was accepted by SWRG.

However, Landry’s then increased its bid to $9.75 per share, saying it would retain the company’s New York properties and not enter into any severance agreements with SWRG officials.

Following that, Valenti, Splichal and Bunker Hill made the current $11 per share counter offer, assuming all rights and obligations under the original merger agreement between Patina and SWRG.

Under terms of the deal, Stillman would acquire Quality Meats and Park Avenue Summer and the management rights to the New York Smith & Wollensky — which is owned by St. James Associates — the Post House and Maloney & Porcelli. The Stillman Group agreed to acquire those assets in exchange for about $6.9 million in cash and/or common stock, plus the assumption of certain liabilities and contingent obligations.

Patina Restaurant Group will manage the Smith & Wollensky properties, which are located in Miami Beach, Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Columbus, Ohio, Houston and Boston. The company closed its Dallas outlet earlier this year.

Valenti earlier said Patina plans to begin expanding the 30-year-old steakhouse brand again. “We’ve already begun to look for locations,” he said.

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