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Whataburger sells majority interest to BDT Capital Partners

Texas-based burger brand names new leadership team as it looks to grow

San Antonio, Texas-based burger chain Whataburger Inc. has agreed to sell a majority interest to Chicago-based merchant bank BDT Capital Partners. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Whataburger’s founders, the Dobson family, will retain a minority interest in the company, and the company’s headquarters will remain in San Antonio.

Whataburger’s president and CEO Preston Atkinson and board chairman Tom Dobson will maintain seats on the company’s board of directors but will retire from day-to-day operations and leadership efforts, the company said. Ed Nelson, Whataburger’s chief financial officer/controller will be promoted to president effective July 1.

“We’re excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we’ve built,” Atkinson said in a statement. “They want to preserve it while they help us continue growing a sustainable, competitive business over a long period of time. They don’t plan to change our recipe for success.”

The news was announced just one month after Whataburger hired Morgan Stanley investment bank to look at strategic options for the chain and evaluate options for a partial-sale of the business.

BDT will work on long-term growth strategy for the brand moving forward.

“We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Whataburger team, continuing their commitment to serving high-quality, great-tasting food at a value and delivering a superior customer experience,” Tiffany Hagge, Managing Director of BDT Capital Partners said in a statement. “We are excited to support Whataburger as they continue to innovate and pursue accelerated growth in existing and new markets.”

The company also named several other C-level executives.

Effective July 1, Leonard Mazzocco, who will be promoted from vice president of business operations to senior vice president and COO; and James Turcotte, who will continue in his role as senior vice president of the real estate segment and be promoted to chief development officer.

In Nation's Restaurant News' upcoming Top 200 census, Whataburger reported $2.42 billion in U.S. systemwide sales for the fiscal year ended in December 2018, a 6% increase over 2017.

At the end of 2018, Whataburger had 825 restaurants in 10 states.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at Joanna.Fantozzi@informa.com

Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi 

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