The Restaurant Group - The acquisition of Wagamama.

Garnering shareholder support for £559m acquisition of Wagamama.

In Autumn 2018, The Restaurant Group sought to acquire Wagamama. To do so, they had just one month to raise £315m, as well as gain shareholder approval at a General Meeting.

However, this purchase was not going to be waived through by shareholders – who divided in to two opposing groups: risk-averse investors seeking a steady dividend income versus growth investors.

Getting through to those opposed

Those opposed to the acquisition began to generate significant negative media coverage, which was seized on by commentators as evidence of a risky management gamble, and a sign that the deal may not be approved.

Those opposed to the Wagamama acquisition had clearly defined reasons for doing so, and were unlikely to change their perspective. It was imperative that The Restaurant Group demonstrated that it understood those concerns while making their case and that we amplified the voices of independent supporters.

Spreading positivity and support

Our media strategy was centred around amplifying positive shareholder support, as from the offset, those opposing the deal were most vocal in the press leading to negative sentiment. We unearthed shareholder support and used commentary proactively with the press, ensuring the strategic rationale for the deal was recognised and sentiment around the deal was balanced.

Regular dialogue with City commentators and sector correspondents ensured that The Restaurant Group key messages were communicated, and that the market understood the strategic rationale and long-term growth opportunities the deal would bring.

Key advocates among fund managers were identified and encouraged to highlight their support for the acquisition, to ensure those in favour were equally represented in the media. Favourable fund managers were encouraged to issue positive commentary in the press.

Outcomes

  • The Restaurant Group received a majority vote of approval for the acquisition and rights issue.
  • Today, as one of the sector’s highest-performing brands, Wagamama represents a crucial part of The Restaurant Group’s portfolio.
  • The tide was turned in the media – articles became more balanced and nuanced and there were fewer negative headlines.