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European Fund To Buy Panera Bread For $7.16B, Plans To Take The Chain Private

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Panera Bread

Panera Bread Co. has agreed to a buyout deal from European investment fund JAB Holding Co. for a whopping $7.16B. 

The fund will take Panera private, paying a 20% premium on the fast-casual king's March 31 closing price that amounts to $315/share, the Wall Street Journal reports. JAB will also assume Panera's $340M in debt. 

While most experts are surprised by the move, considering the expensive price tag on the deal and the fact that Panera has been performing well, some analysts said JAB could squeeze extra value out of the chain by franchising more of its restaurants. Only 56% of Panera’s restaurants are currently franchises.

The Luxembourg-based investment fund has been quietly eating up U.S. companies in the last few years. Last year JAB grabbed Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. for $1.35B and Keurig Green Mountain Inc. for almost $14B. The current deal is still subject to regulatory and Panera shareholder approval. If given the green light the transaction is expected to close in Q3.