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Burger King dusts off crown and going public again

Associated Press Modified: April 4, 2012 at 11:30 am •  Published: April 4, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Burger King is dusting off its crown and going public again.

The world's No. 2 hamburger chain, which is in the midst of overhauling its menu and stores, says it expects to relist its shares on the New York Stock Exchange within the next three months.

In a deal announced late Tuesday, the New York-based investment firm 3G Capital said it is selling a 29 percent stake in Burger King for $1.4 billion in cash to Justice Holdings Ltd., a London-based shell specifically set up to invest in another company. 3G Capital will keep the remaining 71 percent.

Justice Holding's shares will suspend trading on the London Stock Exchange once the deal is complete. It will then emerge as Burger King Worldwide Inc. and its shares will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Burger King traded under "BKC" between 2006 and 2010 but its new ticker has not yet been determined.

The plans to go public were announced just a day after Burger King launched a star-studded TV ad campaign to tout the biggest revamp since the chain opened its doors in 1954.

The overhaul started last year shortly after 3G Capital took the reins at the fast food chain and assessed the ailing business from top to bottom. Executives decided to abandon Burger King's outdated strategy of courting young men with calorie-packed monstrosities like the Enormous Omelet and the Burger King Stacker and instead play to a much broader audience.

Among the items launched Monday were coffee frappes, fruit smoothies, specialty salads and snack wraps. The additions mimic many of the popular rollouts in recent years by McDonald's Corp., which has solidified its position as the nation's No. 1 fast food chain by recasting itself as a hip, healthy place to eat.

Daniel Schwartz, Burger King's chief financial officer, said the company's growth strategy will not change and that Burger King will continue to focus on strengthening its brand at home and abroad. He said there will be no changes to the senior leadership as a result of the company going public.

"We believe that Burger King's aggressive plans for international growth will benefit from its visibility as a NYSE-listed public company," said Nicolas Berggruen, one of Justice Holding's founders.

The deal is just the latest change at the top for Burger King, which has undergone a series of owners over the years. In 1967, The Pillsbury Co. bought it for $18 million; then in 1988 Grand Metropolitan PLC bought Pillsbury for $5.79 billion.

About a decade later, Grand Metropolitan merged with Guinness to create a new company called Diageo PLC. That company announced its plans to spin off Burger King in 2000.

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