Inspire Brands buys Sonic

Inspire Brands to buy Sonic Corp. for $2.3B

Quick-service burger chain’s management to remain in place

Inspire Brands, parent company of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Rusty Taco, has agreed to buy Sonic Corp. for $2.3 billion, including Sonic’s debt, or $43.50 per share, a premium of about 19 percent over Sonic’s closing price on Sept. 24 and 21 percent above the volume-weighted average price over the past 30 days, the companies said Tuesday.

Following the completion of the deal, Sonic, parent company of quick-service burger chain Sonic Drive-In, will be a privately held subsidiary of Inspire, which is majority owned by private equity firm Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group.

Sonic will remain based in its current Oklahoma City, Okla., headquarters and its management team will stay in place, an Inspire spokesman said via email.

The deal will make Inspire Brands one of the largest foodservice companies in the country with annual sales of more than $12 billion and more than 8,000 company-owned and franchised locations when it adds Sonic’s roughly 3,600 units to its group, making it one of the top 10 largest restaurant companies in the United States. 

Sonic is a highly differentiated brand and is an ideal fit for the Inspire family,” Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown said in a release announcing the acquisition. “We have tremendous respect for Sonic’s exceptional team of employees and franchise owners, who have built one of the industry’s most distinctive restaurant brands.”

Sonic Corp CEO Cliff Hudson said the deal was a credit to his chain’s success.

“This value-maximizing transaction validates the actions we have taken over the last year to grow traffic and improve sales while delivering differentiated offerings and superior guest service,” he said in the release.

“Our Board of Directors, taking into account the views of shareholders, conducted a comprehensive review of a wide range of strategic options to maximize shareholder value. This transaction delivers significant, immediate and certain value to Sonic shareholders, and the private ownership structure will provide important benefits to our guests, franchisees and employees.”

The deal is expected to close by the end of 2018.

Sonic shares spiked on the news, hitting $44.06 in early trading.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Correction: September 25, 2018
This story has been updated with the correct name of Rusty Taco.
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