Nando's reclusive owner has placed a R2.4 billion 'bet' on its international future as it pours money into expansion

Business Insider SA
A Nando’s restaurant in Gurgaon, India, on 14 Octo
A Nando’s restaurant in Gurgaon, India, on 14 October 2018. (Photo by Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • The famously reclusive South African billionaire owner of Nando's, Dick Enthoven, has swapped R2.4 billion in debt for equity in the English company at the heart of its international expansion.
  • A source told The Telegraph, which first reported the transaction, that the deal should be seen as a vote of confidence in Nando's, while other restaurant groups struggle in markets like the UK.
  • Nando's is showing big operating profits internationally – but is also racking up big losses as it invests big sums into international expansion.
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The owner of Nando's operations outside South Africa, Dick Enthoven has placed a R2.4 billion "bet" on his company's aggressive international expansion by swapping debt for equity.

In its last financial year the English company Nando's Group Holdings issued 130 million new shares and repaid a bond worth £127.7 million (around R2.43 billion at current exchange rates) held by Luxembourg company Yellowwoods Treasury 2 S.à r.l., regulatory filings submitted in Britain this week show.

Yellowwoods is part of a complex web of companies through which the South African Enthoven controls Nando's.

The swap should be seen as a vote of confidence in the future of Nando's, a source told Oliver Gill of The Telegraph, which first reported the transaction.

Sources also pointed out that the deal frees up Nando's balance sheet for further expansion.

Fast food and casual dining restaurants have been struggling in several markets, including countries where Nando's has significant interests such as the UK and Australia.

But Nando's is turning a healthy profit – if you ignore the cost of its continuing expansion.

The English company Nando's Group Holdings ultimately controls more than 900 outlets in the UK, Ireland, Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and India. In its last financial year to February it turned an operating profit equivalent to more than R2.2 billion, its accounts filed this week show. But thanks to huge financial expenses – driven by capital expenditure of more than R1.6 billion last year alone – its net loss for the year was the equivalent of around R730 million.

Enthoven is famously reclusive, and beyond confirming he is its ultimate owner, the English Nando's holding company has little to say about him. He provided the money for the founders of Nando's to expand their chain in the 1980s. Because his major business interests appear to be private companies rather than listed – and thanks to holding structures in privacy-friendly jurisdictions such as Luxembourg, he does not appear on typical wealth rankings or lists, but is believed to be one of South Africa's richest people.

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