MIAMI, May 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Benihana Inc. (NASDAQ: BNHN) ("Benihana" or the "Company"), operator of the nation's largest chain of Japanese theme and sushi restaurants, today announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with funds advised by Angelo, Gordon & Co.'s ("Angelo Gordon") Private Equity Group in a transaction valued at approximately $296 million. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110513/NY02073LOGO ) Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been approved by the Company's Board of Directors, Angelo Gordon will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Benihana's common stock for $16.30 per share in cash. This represents a premium of 46% percent over the average closing share price for the 30 days ended March 13, 2012, at which time the Company announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives (including a possible sale of the Company), and an approximate 23% premium to the closing share price on May 21, 2012. The transaction will result in Benihana becoming a private company. Richard C. Stockinger, Benihana's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "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. Our management and restaurant professionals have done a tremendous job of accelerating and strengthening performance through our renewal efforts. After evaluating the Company's strategic alternatives, we are pleased to reach agreement with Angelo Gordon. We feel that this transaction with Angelo Gordon recognizes the value of the Benihana brands and delivers a significant cash premium to the Company's shareholders." "Benihana has a great brand heritage and delivers a unique customer experience across its three restaurant concepts," said Richard Leonard, a Managing Director at Angelo Gordon. "We are very excited to be working with Richard Stockinger and the entire Benihana team. They've been very successful in bolstering Benihana's operations and positioning the Company for growth. 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." Mr. Stockinger continued, "We believe that partnering with Angelo Gordon will help Benihana continue its track record of profitable growth, and we look forward to working with Richard and his team."
Shares of Benihana (Nasdaq:BNHN) have taken a tremendous swing upward. The stock is trading at $16.15 as of 10:05 a.m. ET, 21.4% above Monday's closing price of $13.30. Volume is at 1.7 million, 31.1 times the daily average of 55,900.
Shares of Benihana (Nasdaq:BNHN) were gapping up Wednesday morning with an open price 16.7% higher than Tuesday's closing price. The stock closed at $14.22 yesterday and opened today's trading at $16.59.