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Rubio’s receives $80M buyout offer

CARLSBAD Calif. Rubio’s Restaurants Inc., the parent company to the 195-unit Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill chain, said late Wednesday it received an unsolicited letter from an investor group proposing an $80 million buyout offer.

The letter, which was not yet filed with federal securities regulators, came from Alex Meruelo and investment firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners IV LP. The group offered $8 per share for all of Rubio’s stock, a 33-percent premium over Rubio’s closing price of $6 per share on Wednesday. With 10.04 million shares outstanding as of its latest quarter, the offer values Rubio’s at about $80 million.


Rubio’s said in a statement that its board of directors will consider the offer and act in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. The company said it could not provide further comment at this time. 

According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Meruelo is an investment and real estate executive with various holdings. As of April, the Alex Meruelo Living Trust owned about 1 million shares of Rubio’s, or a 10-percent stake. Levine Leichtman is a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based investment firm with about $5 billion under management. Previous and current restaurant investments have included Wetzel’s Pretzels, Quiznos, CiCi’s Pizza and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s.


Ayear ago at this time, Rubio’s received a buyout offer of $5 per share, or about $49.75 million, from private-equity firm and 5.9-percent stakeholder Kelly Capital Investments LLC. Rubio's rejected the offer, saying that it undervalued the company. At the time, Rubio's stock was trading around $4 a share.


For the first half of its year, Rubio’s net income totaled $757,000, or 8 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $410,000, or 4 cents a share, for the same six months a year ago. Revenue for the first half of 2009 totaled a company record of $95 million, up 9 percent from $87.3 million for the first six months of 2008.

Rubio’s, which operates mainly in the states of California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, expects to open 10 restaurants this year, including the seven already opened through June.

Contact Sarah E. Lockyer at [email protected].

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