OKLAHOMA CITY and ATLANTA – Inspire Brands Inc., parent company of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and R Taco, will add Sonic Corp. to its portfolio of quick-service restaurant chains for $43.50 per share, or approximately $2.3 billion, including the assumption of Sonic’s net debt. The acquisition will make Sonic a privately held subsidiary operating as an independent brand.
The agreement represents a premium of approximately 19 percent per share to Sonic’s closing stock price on Sept. 24 and a premium of approximately 21 percent to Sonic’s 30-day volume-weighted average price.
“This value-maximizing transaction validates the actions we have taken over the last year to grow traffic and improve sales while delivering differentiated offerings and superior guest service,” said Cliff Hudson, CEO of Sonic Corp. “Our board of directors, taking into account the views of shareholders, conducted a comprehensive review of a wide range of strategic options to maximize shareholder value. This transaction delivers significant, immediate and certain value to Sonic shareholders, and the private ownership structure will provide important benefits to our guests, franchisees and employees.”
The Sonic board of directors unanimously approved the transaction, which is subject to the approval of Sonic shareholders and customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Both companies expect the deal to close by the end of the year.
“Sonic is a highly differentiated brand and is an ideal fit for the Inspire family,” said Paul Brown, CEO of Inspire Brands. “We have tremendous respect for Sonic’s exceptional team of employees and franchise owners, who have built one of the industry’s most distinctive restaurant brands.”
Sonic bills itself as the largest drive-in restaurant chain in the US with nearly 3,600 stores. Atlanta-based Inspire Brands was formed when Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. acquired Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. for $2.9 billion. Systemwide, Inspire includes more than 4,600 company-owned and franchised restaurants across 15 countries.
“As one of the largest owner-operators of company-owned and franchised restaurant brands, Inspire appreciates the unique culture of collaboration between Sonic and our franchisees,” Hudson said. “Sonic franchisees are engaged in planning regarding technology, new products and marketing programs, and the team at Inspire recognizes the central role our franchisees have played, and will continue to play, in Sonic’s success. We look forward to working closely with Inspire as we continue to provide made-to-order American classics, distinctive flavors and the most personalized guest experience in our industry.”
For the third quarter ended May 31, 2018, Sonic reported system same-store sales declined 0.2 percent, consisting of a 0.2 percent same-store sales decrease at franchise drive-ins and a 0.2 percent increase at company drive-ins. Net income for the quarter was $21,576,000, or $0.58 per diluted share, compared with $18,751,000, or $0.44 per diluted share, in the year-ago period.