Panera, meet Krispy Kreme. The sandwich-and-soup chain Panera is being acquired by Europe's JAB Holding for more than $7 billion, reports the AP. JAB is better known for the growing stable of brands it owns or has a big stake in, including Peet's Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee, Keurig Green Mountain, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Rumors of a deal for Panera have been swirling for days, with Starbucks one of the companies reportedly interested. On Wednesday, the St. Louis chain revealed that it was actually JAB, an investment fund based in Luxemburg that has quietly become a Starbucks rival.
In a separate Q&A with the AP, Panera founder and CEO Ron Shaich says that he plans to stay on as CEO and that customers should see no difference. Shaich opened a Boston cookie store in the early 1980s and expanded to more than 2,000 bakery-cafes with annual revenue of $5 billion in sales. JAB will pay $315 per Panera Bread Co. share. That's a 14.5% premium to the company's Tuesday closing price of $274. The transaction, which includes approximately $340 million of debt, is expected to close in the third quarter. It still needs the approval of Panera shareholders. Once the deal is complete, Panera will become a privately held company.