18 Months After Going Private, Burger King to Be Public Company

News Comes Day After Extended Menu, Flashy Ad Campaign Lands

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It's a busy week for Burger King as it announced late Tuesday a deal that will soon have it listed on the public market, just 18 months after it went private in a buyout. The news comes a day after it unveiled an overhauled menu and a celeb-laden advertising campaign to promote it.

The fast-food chain, taken private in 2010 by New York investment firm 3G Capital, is going to be a public company after merging with a special-purpose acquisition company owned by billionaire William Ackman.

3G Capital, backed by Brazilian billionaires, will receive $1.4 billion in cash to transfer Burger King to Ackman's Justice Holdings Ltd., according to a statement from the companies today. 3G Capital agreed to acquire Burger King in September 2010 for $3.3 billion, the biggest restaurant acquisition in at least a decade.

3G Capital will remain the largest shareholder in Burger King, with a 71% stake; Justice and its founders will own about 29% of the combined company, according to the statement.

After the deal closes, Justice, which trades on the London Stock Exchange, will immediately stop trading, and Burger King Worldwide Inc. will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

"We believe it is the right time for Burger King to be publicly traded in the U.S. again," Chief Financial Officer Daniel Schwartz said in a statement. "With this transaction, we are positioning the Burger King brand for long-term growth both domestically and internationally."

Burger King has been extraordinarily active this week. After launching the new menu and corresponding ad campaign, it encountered some controversy as an ad starring Mary J. Blige singing about "crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses" mysteriously disappeared from the company's YouTube channel. Some speculated the spot was pulled in response to complaints that it played into racial stereotypes of African-Americans. Burger King, however, told Ad Age that the ad was pulled because of a licensing issue.

~~~Bloomberg News~~~

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