Private Equity Firm Agrees to Buy Majority Stake in Eataly

Image Credit: iStock, Gilberto Villasana

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Eataly’s owners are bidding arrivederci to their majority stake in the chain of Italian-themed shopping malls/food courts/date night destinations of last resort.

On Wednesday, European private equity firm Investindustrial announced it had agreed to acquire a 52% stake in the company, an investment with valued the eatery at roughly $400 million. That’s a whole lotta ziti.

The Italian Job

As famed Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini put it, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” Since its inception, Eataly has aimed to take that mantra across the world — literally. The quote is plastered on the walls of most of the company’s 40 global locations, including in the US, Japan, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates.

Under the leadership of Investindustrial, which has plenty of experience with Italian brands, Eataly will continue its worldwide expansion. The portion of the business not under Investindustrial ownership will remain a family affair:

  • “We can complement the current megastores with small ones which can fuel brand expansion,” Investindustrial founder Andrea Bonomi told the Financial Times. His firm already manages over €11 billion in assets, including Italian ingredients maker Italcanditi and Italian restaurant chain Dispensa Emilia.
  • The family of Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti, who launched the company in 2007, will join the Baffigo/Miroglio family as well as Milan-based private equity firm Tamburi Investment Partners to own the remaining 48% of the business.

Investindustrial, which listed Italian luxury fashion line Zegna in New York, is likely to seek a similar path for its new business. “Eataly is the Zegna of tomorrow and in the future a listing is probable,” Bonomi told the FT. Sounds like he’s gonna make an initial public offer Wall Street can’t refuse.