Benihana Seen Luring Richest Restaurant Deal Since ’07

Benihana Inc. needs to persuade potential acquirers that revived profits and sales at its Japanese-themed eateries are enough to justify the most expensive U.S. restaurant takeover in almost five years.

The Miami-based chain, known for shrimp-flipping chefs who cook at customers’ tables, said last week it will work with Jefferies & Co. to explore a possible sale for the second time in two years. After the stock more than doubled since its earlier attempt, the company is now trading at about 45 times earnings, higher than 94 percent of its peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That would also make Benihana the industry’s priciest takeover greater than $200 million since before the last U.S. recession, the data show.

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