An affiliate of Roark Capital Group has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s parent CKE Inc., and members of the burger chains’ senior management will retain a minority interest, the company said late Tuesday.

Terms were not initially disclosed and the deal is not expected to close until the fourth quarter. But the announcement puts to rest rumors circulated earlier in the week that TriArtisan Capital Partners had been a leading contender for the Carpinteria, Calif.-based company.

CKE was sold by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management LLC, which took the company private in 2010 in a deal valued at about $1 billion. Since then, Apollo has refinanced the company’s debt several times, including a $1 billion refinancing in April.

Atlanta-based Roark Capital has a broad portfolio of restaurant brands with an emphasis on franchised concepts, including Atlanta-based Arby’s, a quick-service competitor to Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.

Roark’s investments also include Corner Bakery Café and sister chain Il Fornaio; Wingstop; McAlister’s Deli; and the various concepts under Focus Brands Inc., including Carvel Corp., Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Schlotzsky’s and Moe’s Southwest Grill. Most recently, Roark added the Miller’s Ale House chain, which it acquired from KarpReilly LLC in July.

Andy Puzder, CKE’s chief executive, said in a statement, “We are looking forward to our long-term partnership with Roark Capital Group. Their proven track record of success and deep expertise in the restaurant and franchise sectors will be very beneficial as we continue to grow and expand CKE’s market-leading brands around the world.

“The entire senior management team of CKE is very excited about having Roark Capital’s support in continuing to build the company’s world-class quick-service restaurant organization,” he added.
 
CKE owns, operates and franchises 3,381 restaurants under the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brand names, as well as sister co-brands Green Burrito and Red Burrito, in 42 states and 29 countries and U.S. territories worldwide with systemwide revenues of about $3.9 billion, the company said.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are known for their decadent Thickburgers and Six Dollar Burger lines, often marketed with the help of racy TV ads featuring buxom model/actresses in a way that appeals to the brands’ target audience of “young, hungry men.”

Earlier this month, the chains announced plans to roll out new freshly baked burger buns as an upgrade to the signature burgers.

Neal Aronson, Roark’s managing partner, said in a statement that the private-equity firm is thrilled to partner with CKE’s “A-plus management team led by Andy Puzder, and be associated with these differentiated brands and their engaged and successful franchisees and employees.”

Goldman Sachs & Co. and Wells Fargo Securities LLC acted as financial advisors to CKE, and Morgan Lewis LLP served as legal counsel. Roark was advised by King & Spalding LLP as legal counsel.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the story incorrectly identified the parent of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s as CKE Restaurants Inc., a former name of the company. The parent company is currently CKE Inc.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
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