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Jollibee takes 47% stake in US Mexican-food business

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PHILSTAR

JOLLIBEE Foods Corp. (JFC) said Friday that it achieved deal closing on a US partnership to build a Mexican-themed restaurant business.

The company, through its wholly owned subsidiary Jollibee Food Corp. (USA), entered into a business venture with chef Rick Bayless for a fast-casual establishment. The partnership was approved by its board in September.

“This partnership is in line with the JFC group’s strategy to continue building its business abroad and expanding its presence in North America,” it said.

JFC will build a “significant business in the large and fast-growing Mexican food category” in the US together with the organization build by Mr. Bayless and the brand Tortas Frontera.

“This venture is very much in line with JFC’s mission: to serve great-tasting food and spread the joy of eating to everyone,” it said.

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The listed company said Mexican food is a rapidly growing and popular segment in the US restaurant industry with estimated sales of $40-45 billion in 2017.

The partnership will be formalized through an investment by JFC of $12.4 million in Tortas Frontera LLC, which owns the Tortas Frontera business founded by Mr. Bayless.

The investment is for 47% of the fully-diluted interest in the business. The remaining 53% will be held by the chef and other shareholders. The shares were valued at $1.62.

“This is a negotiated price mutually agreed upon by the parties,” JFC said, adding that it will fund the acquisition through available cash.

JFC said Tortas Frontera is based in Chicago and has four restaurants in the US — three in Chicago O’Hare International Airport and one at The Arc in the University of Pennsylvania.

“The Tortas Frontera restaurants use high-quality ingredients with recipes capturing the vibrant flavors of Mexico. It offers mainly tortas — griddle-baked Mexican sandwiches with a variety of fillings such as beer-braised beef short ribs, chipotle chicken, garlicky shrimp and goat cheese — and molletes — warm, open-faced sandwiches. They also feature a guacamole bar with freshly made guacamole and the customer’s choice of toppings,” it said.

On Friday, JFC fell 0.20% to P302.40. — Victor V. Saulon

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