Exclusive: Chef Jamie Oliver's empire whips up investor interest

Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:53am EST
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By Pamela Barbaglia and Freya Berry

LONDON (Reuters) - British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is looking to outside investors to help expand his growing network of Italian restaurants and to fund an online TV project, sources familiar with the situation said.

Oliver, who has amassed a fortune of 240 million pounds ($377 million) according to the Sunday Times Rich List, could raise funds early next year to support his media initiatives.

The sale of a minority stake in Oliver's media interests would be the prelude to a larger investment in Oliver's Italian restaurant chain in around 12 months, the sources said.

A representative for Oliver declined to comment.

Oliver, whose simple recipes earned him the nickname "The Naked Chef", has grown his restaurant business to more than 30 venues in Britain and has a presence in Brazil, Russia, Singapore and Dubai, among other markets.

The restaurant business has revenues of 110 million pounds with core earnings of around 14 million pounds, the sources said.

Jamie Oliver Holdings, which houses some of the celebrity chef's TV production activities and cookbooks, reported operating profit from continuing operations of around 5 million pounds in 2013, according to its financial statement.

"Jamie has been conducting an internal review for some time. The first step is to sell a minority stake within his media business," one of the sources said, cautioning that a formal process has yet to start and no banks have been mandated to advise on it.   Continued...

The Naked Chef Jamie Oliver slices fish during an appearance on NBC's "Today" show in Miami Beach, Florida February 22, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Thayer