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Chinese firm buys UK's Pizza Express chain

LONDON (AP) -- Pizza Express, one of Britain's best-known chain restaurants, has been sold to a Chinese private equity firm for about 900 million pounds ($1.5 billion.)

Gondola Group, which also owns other British restaurant chains, said it agreed to the sale with Hony Capital on Saturday in the latest example of Chinese investment in European companies.

Pizza Express has 436 restaurants in the U.K. along with 68 internationally, including 22 in China.

The chain's chief executive, Richard Hodgson, said Asia is a key part of the chain's growth strategy and Hony's expertise in the region will be valuable.

Hony said it aimed to capitalize on its local expertise to help the chain grow in the Chinese market.

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