The numbers are in for a Panera Bread Co. deal and, as expected, it's not cheap.
The bakery-cafe chain announced on Wednesday that it's selling itself to JAB Holding Co. for about $7.5 billion including debt, or $315 a share. The purchase price works out to about 19 times the restaurant company's Ebitda in the past year and almost 3 times its revenue. Such multiples are enough to put it in the upper echelon of North American restaurant deals of the last decade.
JAB is no stranger to big, pricey deals. Its last purchase, the $1.4 billion takeover of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. in 2016, involved similar valuations to those commanded by Panera. Meanwhile, JAB paid more than 20 times Ebitda for Peet's Coffee & Tea Inc. in 2012, and then forked over a 78 percent premium for the $14 billion takeover of Keurig Green Mountain Inc. in 2016.
Such a rapid flurry of activity in such a short time would raise questions about any company's financial situation. JAB is uniquely situated to pay up for deals, though. On the one hand, it's a private investor with a long-term holding mentality. But its food and coffee roll-up strategy has also given it the kind of portfolio that creates synergy opportunities usually only available to strategic buyers.
There might be some kind of savings to be had by combining Panera's dough facilities and orders for pastry-making supplies with Krispy Kreme's doughnut-making operations, for example. Some of JAB's coffee brands could also be sold at Panera stores, while Panera's digital success could be applied across JAB's empire.
Among the speculated buyers for Panera -- Starbucks Corp. reportedly was the first to approach the company about a deal, while Domino's Pizza Inc. had also been considered a potential bidder -- JAB makes the most sense. It has experience melding different brands while maintaining distinct locations, something Starbucks has struggled with. You can never rule out a bidding war, although it seems unlikely that Starbucks would want to top an already rich price for a deal that would have taken it out of its comfort zone.
This bread looks fully baked.
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