Billionaire Richard Caring has initiated an auction for his share in the Ivy restaurant group, The Sunday Times has reported.

Caring’s advisers have valued the original Ivy restaurant in London’s West End, along with its spin-off restaurants, the Ivy Collection and Ivy Asia sites, at £1bn.

HSBC has commenced the distribution of marketing materials to potential buyers of the restaurant group, which is owned by Richard Caring through a 50-50 joint venture with former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin-Jassim Bin-Jaber Al Thani.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is anticipated to show interest in the bid, following its acquisition of a 49% stake in Sir Rocco Forte’s hotels group at the end of 2023 in a deal that valued the company at £1.2bn, according to The Caterer.

The original Ivy site, which opened in 1917, has long been a favourite among theatre actors due to its location close to London’s West End, and has maintained its status as a celebrity hotspot.

Troia (UK) Restaurants, the entity that owns and operates the Ivy brand, reported strong growth for the period ending 1 January 2023. The company’s profit before tax rose to £29m, up from £20.4m in 2022.

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Caprice Holdings, also owned by Richard Caring, registered a 71% rise in turnover in 2022.

Its renowned restaurants, which include Scott’s, Sexy Fish, J Sheekey and Mayfair nightclub Annabel’s, are not part of the current sale.

The Ivy chain, known for its celebrity patrons and upscale dining experience, has been in the spotlight since news of the potential sale emerged in December 2023.

Sky News revealed that Caring is considering the sale of a significant stake in the Ivy group. It also estimated the value of the business at around £1bn.