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Friendly's franchisee to consider buying the chain

ROCHESTER N.Y. A 46-unit franchisee of the Friendly’s family restaurant chain plans to evaluate the purchase of all or a part of the franchisor, according to the licensee’s newly retained financial advisor.

The franchisee, Kessler Family LLC here, said it is the largest franchisee of Friendly Ice Cream Corp., which disclosed last week that it was considering a sale and other ways of boosting the value of its shareholders’ investment.  If Friendly proceeds with a sale, Kessler would consider a purchase as part of its consideration of strategic alternatives, according to Mastodon Ventures Inc., a mergers-and-acquisitions advisor retained by Kessler as financial counsel.

Friendly owns or franchises 514 restaurants concentrated in the eastern United States. The franchisor is under pressure from dissident shareholder Saldar Biglari, who controls about a 15 percent stake in Friendly, to accelerate franchising, reduce debt and change corporate governance policies. Biglari, chairman of the hedge fund The Lion Fund LP, is also chairman of Western Sizzlin Corp, an operator of several regional steakhouse chains. Biglari is seeking two seats on the board of directors at Friendly.

Neither Friendly nor Biglari had issued a comment on Kessler’s disclosure as of press time.

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