James’s Blaze Pizza is a hot in­vest­ment

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - BLOOMBERG

U.S. bas­ket­ball star Le­Bron James, who in­vested in Blaze Pizza five years ago, is get­ting some deep­pock­eted com­pany.

The fast-ca­sual pizza chain just sold a “sig­nif­i­cant non­con­trol­ling” stake to Brent­wood As­so­ci­ates, a pri­vate eq­uity firm with $2.4 bil­lion US un­der man­age­ment. The deal was ex­pected to give Blaze Pizza an en­ter­prise value of more than $100 mil­lion, said a per­son fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The deal sig­nals that the bas­ket­ball star made a smart bet when he backed Blaze, a busi­ness that faces a crowded field. The com­pany is the fastest restau­rant chain in his­tory to reach 200 lo­ca­tions, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try re­search firm Tech­nomic Inc. At the same time, some of its com­peti­tors have been shut­ter­ing restau­rants and re­trench­ing.

“The Blaze team has done an amaz­ing job grow­ing to 200 restau­rants in un­der five years,” Rahul Ag­gar­wal, a part­ner at Los An­ge­les-based Brent­wood, said in a state­ment. James, the 32-year-old Cleve­land Cava­liers for­ward, took a stake in 2012 and owns about 10 per cent of the com­pany — along with an in­ter­est in a fran­chise group that holds rights to Blaze restau­rants in Chicago and South Florida.

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