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Salt Bae backers seeking partner and US$1b valuation: sources

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The owners of the Nusr-Et steakhouse, known by its founder chef's meme Salt Bae, are considering selling a stake in the business, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

[ISTANBUL] The owners of the Nusr-Et steakhouse, known by its founder chef's meme Salt Bae, are considering selling a stake in the business, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

Turkish billionaire Ferit Sahenk, and co-founders Nusret Gokce and Mithat Erdem, may sell a combined stake or an individual holding to one or a group of investors, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. There's been strong interest from international investors and a financial adviser is assessing potential bids, they said.

The valuation of Nusr-Et as a standalone enterprise could reach US$1 billion or more, according to two of the people familiar with the sales discussions.

Founded in 2010 in Istanbul by Turkish butcher Mr Gokce, Nusr-Et also operates steakhouses and burger joints in New York, Miami, Dubai and on the Greek island of Mykonos. Mr Gokce and Mr Erdem hold a combined 49 per cent in the restaurant chain, while Mr Sahenk's D.ream Group, or Dogus Restaurants Entertainment & Management, holds the rest, the people said.

Dogus Gayrimenkul Yatirim Ortakligi AS, a real estate developer owned by Dogus Holding, surged as much as 19 per cent to 3.51 liras in Istanbul, the highest since January 2018.

Dogus struggled to repay foreign-exchange loans after the lira plunged in value. The group restructured around US$2.5 billion of debt in December and has been selling stakes in hotels and restaurants as part of the renegotiated agreement. It could dispose of investments worth as much as 800 million euros (S$1.20 billion), Mr Sahenk said in an interview in August.

The company had earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of about US$70 million this year, according to the people. Representatives for Mr Gokce, Mr Erdem and Dogus Holding all declined to comment.

Dogus Holding was considering spinning off some of his D.ream restaurant business in a potential initial public offering in London, Bloomberg News has reported. D.ream also has the franchise of Japanese restaurant Zuma, Coya and El Paraguas brands.

Dogus Holding sold 17 per cent of D.ream International BV to Singapore's state-owned investment firm Temasek and London-based private equity firm Metric Capital Partners for US$200 million in 2018.

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