|Morton’s The Steakhouse in San Juan
Chicago-based Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc., parent company of Morton’s The Steakhouse, an upscale eatery that has called the Caribe Hilton hotel its home for the past decade, may be seeking a buyer.
The restaurant operator announced last week it is exploring “strategic options,” for its 77 steakhouse restaurant chain that spans 64 cities across 26 states and Puerto Rico, where it opened in October 2000. It also has six international locations in Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Mexico City, Singapore and Toronto.
“The company has not set a definitive timetable for completing its exploration of strategic alternatives and there can be no assurance that the process will result in any transaction. The company does not intend to disclose further developments during this process, unless and until its board of directors approves a specific transaction or otherwise concludes the review of strategic alternatives,” Morton’s said in a statement released last week.
In the statement, the publicly traded company disclosed that the strategic review has the support of its two largest shareholders, Castle Harlan Inc. and Laurel Crown Partners. The restaurant operator has hired Jefferies & Co. Inc. as its financial adviser.
Through the sale, the beleaguered restaurant chain seeks to restore shareholder value, as a 58 percent slump since its initial public offering in February 2006 left its market capitalization at just $121 million, Bloomberg reported.
Morton’s, along with other restaurant operators, has faced surging meat prices over the past year. Beef costs, which represented 43 percent of Morton’s food and beverage expenses last fiscal year, are expected to rise more than 10 percent, Chief Financial Officer Ronald DiNella said during a conference call on Feb. 24, according to Bloomberg.
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