J. Alexander’s Holdings Inc. (NYSE: JAX) has agreed to acquire casual dining restaurant chain 99 Restaurant & Pub from Fidelity National Financial Inc. for $199 million, including debt. The buyer has been seeking acquisitions since it was spun off from Fidelity in 2015.

Woburn, Massachusetts-based 99 Restaurant operates 106 eateries throughout the Northeast and East. The target serves traditional American items such as burgers, salads and sandwiches, along with local lobster. J. Alexanders is based in Nashville and owns 42 upscale restaurants across three brands: J. Alexander’s, Redlands Grill and Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill.

"We believe the acquisition of the Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub group will help us with scaling our business," says Alexander's CEO Lonnie Stout. Bass Berry & Sims plc is representing the Alexander's, which received a fairness opinions from Stephens. Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP is advising Fidelity.

Buyers have been showing interest in the casual dining segment In 2017, Red Lobster owner Golden Gate Capital purchased Bob Evans Restaurants from Bob Evans Farms Inc. (Nasdaq: BOBE) for $565 million; Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) acquired Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen for $780 million; and Roark Capital Group bought a majority stake in Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q.

99 Restaurant & Pub

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Demitri Diakantonis

Demitri Diakantonis

Demitri Diakantonis joined SourceMedia in 2015 and serves as Assistant Managing Editor of Mergers & Acquisitions and writes The Buyside column about corporate dealmaking, and also covers the consumer sector.