September 29, 2017 / 2:38 AM / 19 days ago

Japan's Genki Sushi, Sushiro to merge: source

The logo of sushi restaurant chain Sushiro, operated by Akindo Sushiro Co., is displayed outside the restaurant in Kawaguchi, Saitama prefecture, Japan May 14, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - The owner of Japanese restaurant chain Genki Sushi Co (9828.T) will buy a one-third stake in bigger rival Sushiro Global Holdings Ltd (3563.T) from private equity firm Permira [PERM.UL], a person with direct knowledge of the deal said.

Permira will sell its stake in Sushiro Global to Shinmei Co, the owner of Genki Sushi, said the person, asking not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Permira bought Sushiro in 2012 from Japanese private equity firm Unison Capital. The market for Japan’s conveyor-belt sushi market is expected to grow by about 25 percent to 625 billion yen ($5.55 billion) this year from 500 billion yen in 2012, according to research firm Fuji Keizai Co.

Permira, which paid about 80 billion yen for Sushiro to Unison, boosted the value of the company by cutting costs on fish ingredients by using its global network.

Sushiro shares closed at 3,625 yen on Friday morning, making it worth 99.7 billion yen.

A Permira official declined to comment on the sale, which was first reported by the Nikkei business daily on Friday.

Sushiro and Genki Sushi said in separate statements they were discussing the reported transaction at a board meeting on Friday.

(This version of the story corrects size, description of Japan’s sushi market in third paragraph.)

Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Stephen Coates

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