Business Finance » Corporate

Burger King Returns to New York Stock Exchange

by Candice Choi
Wednesday Jun 20, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Burger King is back on the New York Stock Exchange.

The world's No. 2 hamburger chain began trading as a public company again Wednesday under the ticker symbol "BKW." Shares gained 98 cents, or 6.8 percent, to $15.48 in morning trading.

The Miami-based chain had last traded as a public company between 2006 and 2010, before it was purchased and taken private by investment firm 3G Capital.

Burger King's return to the Big Board wasn't through an initial public offering, however. 3G Capital announced an unusual deal in April to sell a minority stake to Justice Holdings Ltd., a London-based entity that was specifically set up to invest in another company. 3G Capital received $1.4 billion in exchange and retains a 71 percent stake in the company.

Under the deal, Justice suspended trading on the London Stock Exchange once the deal was complete and emerged as Burger King Worldwide Inc. on the New York Stock Exchange.

Only 16 percent of shares are available for sale to investors.

The founders of Justice Holdings will hold onto their 13 percent of shares for at least one year as part of the deal. 3G Capital will hold onto its 71 percent stake for at least six months.

Among Justice's founders are Bill Ackman, an activist investor and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management; Martin Franklin, founder and executive chairman of consumer products company Jarden Corp.; Alan Parker, former CEO of Whitbread PLC, the United Kingdom's largest hotel and restaurant company; and investor Nicolas Berggruen.

Franklin and Parker will join Burger King's board as part of the deal. 3G Capital has said that no other changes will be made to the senior leadership and that the company will continue its focus on turning around the brand.

As the fast-food market becomes increasingly crowded at home, Burger King like other companies has focused on expansion overseas. The company recently announced plans to open hundreds of new restaurants in Russia and 1,000 in China over the next several years. That's in addition to similar expansion plans for Brazil announced last year.

In the past year, 80 percent of new store openings were in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Back in the U.S., Burger King has been working to refresh its outdated image and win back lost market share. The company launched its biggest menu expansion ever in April, with items including fruit smoothies, specialty salads and coffee frappes. The chain is abandoning its strategy of courting young men and going after a broader customer base of moms and families.

Burger King has more than 12,500 restaurants worldwide, compared with 33,000 for McDonald's Corp.

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