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Burger King said to be in negotiations to buy Popeyes

Ed Hammond
Bloomberg News

Restaurant Brands International Inc., the owner of Burger King, is in advanced talks with Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. about a takeover of the fried-chicken chain, according to people familiar with the matter.

Negotiations between the companies are ongoing, and a transaction could be announced as early as this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public. Talks could still fall apart, the people said. Popeyes has a market value of about $1.37 billion, while Restaurant Brands is worth $25 billion.

The companies held talks in the summer but were unable to reach an agreement at the time, the people said. Burger King renewed its interest in Popeyes late last week and made an offer that was mainly cash, one of the people said. The fried-chicken chain then contacted possible counter bidders over the weekend, however no competitive offer materialized, the person said.

A spokeswoman for Popeyes declined to comment. A representative for Restaurant Brands didn’t immediately respond to a request outside of regular business hours.

Dealmaking in the restaurant industry picked up last year, with a total of $7.3 billion of acquisitions announced, compared with $4.2 billion in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

JAB Holding Co., the investment company of Austria’s billionaire Reimann family, agreed to buy Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. for $1.35 billion in May, while Heineken NV teamed up with Patron Capital to bid for U.K. pub operator Punch Taverns Plc’s shares in December.

Restaurant Brands,backed by Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital, was created in 2014 when Burger King Worldwide Inc. bought Tim Hortons Inc. and relocated its headquarters to the coffee chain’s home country of Canada. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. was brought in by 3G to provide financing for the deal, and still holds a stake in Restaurant Brands.

Popeyes, based in Atlanta, can trace its roots back to a single fried-chicken shop opened in New Orleans in 1972. It operated and franchised more than 2,600 restaurants in the U.S. and 26 other countries as of October 2, according to its third-quarter earnings report.