US PE firm Golden Gate sells stake in Red Lobster to Thai Union

Photo: Red Lobster

US-based private equity firm Golden Gate Capital announced that it has agreed to sell its remaining stake in fish and seafood restaurant chain Red Lobster Seafood Co to a group of investors that include existing investor Thai Union Group.

The investor group, coming together under a new company named Seafood Alliance, also includes Paul Kenny, the former chief executive of one of the larger casual dining and fast-food operators in Asia; Rit Thirakomen, CEO of MK Restaurant Group, a Thai restaurant chain; and members of Red Lobster management.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Golden Gate Capital bought Red Lobster from New York-listed Darden Restaurants in 2014 for $2.1 billion.

In 2014, Thai Union Group, the world’s biggest producer of canned tuna, bought a 25-per cent stake in the seafood chain for $575 million as it sought to expand in the US.

Thai Union has annual sales exceeding 126.3 billion Thai baht ($4.1 billion) and a global workforce of over 44,000 people. It is a supplier to Red Lobster, Wal-Mart Stores, and Costco Wholesale Corp.

“As an anchor investor in Red Lobster since 2016, we are excited to confirm our commitment to the business, which reflects our utmost confidence in management and the company’s strategy of serving top quality seafood for a great value,” said Thiraphong Chansiri, President & CEO of Thai Union.

Red Lobster claims to be the world’s largest and most-loved seafood restaurant company. It will remain headquartered in Orlando, Florida, led by CEO Kim Lopdrup and current management.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Lobster has introduced a touchless delivery and curbside pick-up for to-go orders and introduced new menus to serve families.

Lopdrup said the restaurant’s new initiatives allowed it to quickly and safely grow its off-premise sales and maintained that sales at triple its pre-crisis level.

He expects Red Lobster to further benefit from the international restaurant and hospitality expertise brought by Seafood Alliance.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.