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Is De Niro Selling Nobu?

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It may be time to cash out for sushi emperors Robert De Niro, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa & Co. According to one insider, “They’re looking to grow, and to do that you need cash.” Currently, Nobu has sixteen locations, from South Beach to Las Vegas to Tokyo, and its owners have been meeting with execs from giant chains like Starwood Hotels and P.F. Chang’s to finance further expansion by becoming major equity partners—or downright owners. Nobu’s partners are finalizing a potential agreement with Goldman Sachs to execute any deal, and they estimate their company’s worth is $250 million, the source says. Part of the thinking is, “They’ve had a great run, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to cash out.” Drew Nieporent, one of Nobu’s original partners (De Niro is said to own about 30 percent), is unaware of any plans to sell. “I’m sure there have been discussions about some stuff,” he says, “but there’s a lot of generic stuff out there. It’s possible.”

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