Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Investment Firm out to Gain Control of Cucos

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Investment Firm out to Gain Control of Cucos

Article excerpt

A Jacksonville-based investment company is making a tender offer to acquire control of the Cucos Mexican restaurant chain and hopes to eventually create a holding company operating several types of casual restaurants.

Jacksonville Restaurant Acquisition Corp. is offering to acquire 1.2 million shares of Cucos Inc. common stock for $1 each. If the offer is successful, the investment company would own (together with preferred shares it already owns) 52 percent of the voting power of Cucos.

Jacksonville Restaurant Acquisition is led by James W. Osborn, a veteran Jacksonville restaurant executive who was president of Family Steak Houses of Florida Inc. from 1990 through 1993 and also was senior vice president of Woody's Bar-B-Q. He took over as president of Cucos, which is based in Metarie, La., in November 1999. But Osborn said the holding company would be based in Jacksonville and would look to expand with other restaurant chains.

"We're looking to acquire other restaurants to fold under this company," he said, but he wouldn't specify other restaurants.

Cucos currently operates 12 company-owned and five franchised restaurants. It once had two franchised restaurants in the Jacksonville area, but they closed in the mid-1990s.

The company had sales of $20.1 million and a net loss of $3.3 million in the fiscal year ended June 27, 1999, and had sales of $12.3 million and a net loss of $695,807 in the first three quarters of fiscal 2000.

Its stock has been trading close to $1 a share for several years but briefly reached $2.63 last December after the company said it might seek a merger and Osborn took over as president.

The tender offer is scheduled to expire on Aug. 11.

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