Heavy debt load to slice off the Crust

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Business Daily - JOHN DAGGE

RE­TAIL Food Group is look­ing to sell its Crust pizza chain, but the em­bat­tled fran­chise op­er­a­tor has hosed down ex­pec­ta­tions about what price it would achieve.

The group, which also owns Michel’s Patis­serie, Glo­ria Jeans, Brumby’s Bak­ery and Donut King, yes­ter­day said it was pre­par­ing to sell as­sets in or­der to lower its $260 mil­lion debt pile.

The listed fran­chise giant en­tered a trad­ing halt yes­ter­day morn­ing after me­dia re­ports suggested it was work­ing on a deal to sell Crust Gourmet Piz­zas for $100 mil­lion.

Crust is the na­tion’s third­largest pizza chain and has more than 150 out­lets.

Re­tail Food con­firmed it was con­sid­er­ing sell­ing the chain, but poured cold wa­ter on the idea that a sale could raise $100 mil­lion.

Shares in the group had surged by more than 20 per cent in early trade ahead of it go­ing into a trad­ing halt.

“The com­pany con­firms, as pre­vi­ously an­nounced, that it will be seek­ing to re­duce its debt by var­i­ous means in­clud­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the pos­si­ble sale of as­sets,” it said in a state­ment lodged with the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties Ex­change.

“In­so­far as an amount for the sale of Crust Gourmet Piz­zas is spec­u­lated … that amount ex­ceeds RFG’s ex­pec­ta­tions as to the sale price for that as­set if it was to be sold as a part of that process.

“RFG will keep the mar­ket

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