Krispy Kreme Owner To Buy Panera Bread In $7.5 Billion Deal

 (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The investment firm that owns Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee and other enterprises, is purchasing the Panera Bread Co. for $315 per share in cash — a premium of roughly 30 percent over its recent average trading price.

The deal with JAB Holding Co. is valued at around $7.5 billion, Panera said Wednesday.

If the transaction is finalized in the third quarter of 2017 as planned, Panera would be privately held.

News of the merger brought a spike in Panera's stock price. After closing at $274 a share yesterday, the stock soared to well over $300 in pre-market trading this morning.

Panera says its board of directors has unanimously approved the definitive merger agreement with JAB.

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Panera has seen exceptional growth since the early 1990s, when it was created by the founders of Au Bon Pain. Louis Kane and Ron Shaich had purchased the 20-store Saint Louis Bread Company and then changed the concept and name to Panera. They eventually sold off Au Bon Pain to focus on Panera.

The bread-centric café chain says it now has more than 2,000 locations, some $5 billion in sales, and more than 100,000 employees.

In addition to Krispy Kreme, JAB owns coffee and breakfast companies from Jacobs Douwe Egberts and Peet's Coffee & Tea to Einstein Bros. Bagels.

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Copyright 2017 NPR.

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