Panera Bread announces SPAC investment, will return to the public markets through an IPO

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  • Panera Bread is preparing to go public again through an initial public offering.
  • The sandwich chain has also secured investment from restaurant owner Danny Meyer and his SPAC.
  • Panera has been private since it was bought by JAB Holding in 2017 for $7.5 billion.

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Panera Bread is preparing to go public again through an initial public offering.

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The sandwich chain also announced Tuesday that it has secured an investment from Danny Meyer’s special purpose acquisition company, USHG Acquisition Corp. Shares of SPAC climbed 7% in premarket trading on the news.

Meyer said he plans to invest in Panera both personally and through his SPAC. Special purpose acquisition companies have no assets, but can use proceeds from IPOs, combined with bank financing, to publicly buy and take privately held consumer companies. The investment in Panera is an unusual deal for a SPAC, which would exchange its shares for sandwich chain stock and avoid a merger with Panera’s subsidiary Rye Merger, according to regulatory filings.

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SPAC investors can withdraw their money before the deal, so Panera’s current owner JAB Holding has agreed to invest more to offset the redemption. Once the deal is completed, Meyer will become the head of Panera’s board of independent directors.

Panera went private in 2017 when JAB Holding bought the company for $7.5 billion. As a privately held company, the chain continues to invest in technology while fueling its digital sales. Earlier this year Panera unveiled a new restaurant design inspired by changes in consumer behavior following the pandemic.

Panera’s upcoming IPO is the latest in a string of changes to JAB’s portfolio this year. The company, which is the investment arm of the Riemann family, sold Au Bon Pain to a Yum Brands franchise earlier this year. Under JAB’s ownership, several Au Bon Pen locations were converted into Panera restaurants, reducing its footprint from approximately 300 locations to 171. Then, in July, Krispy Kreme went public again after being owned by JAB since 2016.

While Panera prepares to file its paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission, several other restaurant companies have also opted to join the public markets this year, including First Watch Restaurant Group and coffee chain Dutch Brothers.

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