Benihana Inks $296M Private-Equity Buyout

Benihana (NASDAQ:BNHN) scored a $296 million buyout on Tuesday from private-equity firm Angelo, Gordon & Co. that places a 23% premium on the Japanese restaurant chain’s shares.

The go-private deal comes in the wake of a review of strategic alternatives for Miami-based Benihana, which has nearly 7,000 employees and generates 2011 sales of $326 million.

The $16.30-a-share all-cash bid represents a 46% premium over the company’s average closing price in the month before March 13, when the strategic review was disclosed.

“This is a win for our growing base of loyal customers who enjoy our restaurants every day, and for our future customers in markets hungry for the dramatic, high-quality Japanese dining that only our brands can deliver,” Benihana CEO Richard Stockinger said in a statement.

Benihana said the deal includes a so-called “Go Shop” provision that allows management to consider alternative bids from third parties through July 1.

Shares of Benihana soared 21.65% to $16.18 Tuesday, extending their 2012 surge of 30%.

“We believe the market for Japanese cuisine is significant and expanding, and our plan is to help the company realize its growth potential over the next several years,” said Richard Leonard, managing director at Angelo, Gordon & Co., which is based in New York and manages about $24 billion.

Benihana has 95 restaurants across the U.S., including 62 of its namesake restaurants, eight Haru sushi locations and 25 RA Sushi restaurants.

The companies anticipate the transaction closing in the second half of this year and Benihana said it plans to hold a special shareholders meeting after filing a proxy.

Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) served as a financial advisor in the transaction.