The rumors were true: Panera Bread has found a new owner. JAB Holdings — the parent company of Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and Keurig Green Mountain — will buy the sandwich chain for $7.5 billion.
JAB announced Wednesday that it will add Panera to its growing portfolio of breakfast and coffee brands, which already includes Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and Keurig Green Mountain.
Under the deal, JAB — the investment arm of German conglomerate Joh. A. Benckiser — will pay $315 a share and will assume about $340 million in debt from the chain.
“We strongly support Panera’s vision for the future, strategic initiatives, culture of innovation, and balanced company versus franchise store mix,” Olivier Goudet, JAB’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We are excited to invest in and work together with the company’s management team and franchisees to continue to lead the industry.”
The purchase, which must be approved by shareholders and regulators, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017, the Times reports.
If the deal goes through, Panera would be privately held and continue to operate independently.
Panera founder and CEO Ronald Shaich said in a statement that the deal is just the latest step in Panera’s efforts to create the best performing restaurant.
“We believe this transaction with JAB offers the best way to continue to operate with this approach,” Shaich said. “We are pleased to join with JAB, a private investor with an equally long-term perspective, as well as a deep commitment to our strategic plan.”
News of a potential Panera sale came to light on Monday, with JAB Holding, Starbucks, and Domino’s rumored to be in the buying mix.
Wednesday’s deal is just the latest for JAB Holding, which is no stranger to acquiring competing and complementary businesses. In 2012, JAB purchased Peet’s. More recently Peet’s scooped up Stumptown Roasters. The company bought Keurig Green Mountain for $13.9 billion in Dec. 2015.