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HOUSTON-After a year-long struggle, Landry’s Restaurants Inc.’s board of directors has entered into a definitive merger agreement with a company owned by Landry’s founder, chairman and CEO Tilman Fertitta. The Fertitta company has agreed to acquire all of Landry’s outstanding common stock for $14.75 per share in cash, or $1.2 billion, which will take Landry’s private.

According to a statement issued by the company, the offer was a premium of approximately 37% over the closing share price of Landry’s common stock on Nov. 2. The statement said that Fertitta currently owns approximately 55.1% of Landry’s outstanding common stock shares.

The statement goes on to say that, pending approval by Landry’s shareholders and other regulatory approval, the deal should be completed in the first half of 2010. The company will continue soliciting alternative acquisition proposals from other parties until Dec. 17 or until Landry’s debt refinancing is finished. However, Landry’s would be required to pay a $2.4 million break-up fee if it decided not to continue with the merger agreement. Calls to Landry’s were not returned by deadline.

Industry and local media have reported on Fertitta’s attempts to take Landry’s private since 2008. A deal struck in June 2008 between Fertitta and Landry’s collapsed in early 2009. In September, Fertitta tried again, making an offer that would involve a spinoff of Landry’s Saltgrass Inc. steakhouse subsidiary. The plan was rejected by Landry’s board.

Landry’s Restaurants Inc. is a national hospitality and restaurant company that owns and operates full-service casual dining restaurants operating under the names of Rainforest Café, Saltgrass Steak House, Landry’s Seafood House, Charley’s Crab, The Chart House and the Signature Group of Restaurants. Landry’s also owns and operates the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and Laughlin, NV.

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