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Subway joins Dunkin, Jimmy John’s, Buffalo Wild Wings in Roark Capital’s stable

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Roark Capital Group is slated to become the owner of Subway via a proposed acquisition that the privately owned chain known for its foot-long sandwiches unveiled Thursday.

The transaction will involve affiliates of the private equity firm and Subway, which had been looking into the possibility of selling for over six months. It is worth over $9 billion, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources.  

"This transaction reflects Subway’s long-term growth potential, and the substantial value of our brand and our franchisees around the world," Subway CEO John Chidsey said. 

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Here’s a closer look at Subway’s buyer:

Roark manages about $37 billion worth of assets, per its website.

The company frequently invests in franchises, with assets in its portfolio coming from sectors like restaurants, fitness, business services and more. It is based in Atlanta.

Subway sign

Subway is the eighth-largest U.S. restaurant chain with 20,810 locations, which brought in $9.8 billion in domestic sales last year.  (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Chidsey said Subway "has a bright future with Roark," adding that the sandwich chain was "committed to continuing to focus on a win-win-win approach for our franchisees, our guests and our employees."

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Outside its upcoming addition of Subway and its over 37,000 stores to its lineup, Roark has majority ownership of Inspire Brands and Focus Brands, according to past press releases from the private equity firms.

Roark, by way of Inspire and Focus, has a slew of well-known chains. Some of them include Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Baskin Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cinnabon, Dunkin’, Jimmy John’s and Sonic.

Arby's store location

Inspire Brands is the franchisor and operator of Arby’s. (Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

A Dunkin' Donuts coffee and donut with sprinkles

The Roark Capital-owned company Inspire Brands acquired Dunkin’ Brands for $11.3. billion In December 2020. (REUTERS/Jim Young/File / Reuters)

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Jimmy John’s, a peer of Subway in the sandwich market, has a retail footprint spanning over 2,800 locations. 

Roark is tied to Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s, two fast-food chains, through a majority stake in CKE Restaurants, which it picked up in 2013, according to a press release. It has other investments in the food sector, as well.

On its website, it has identified the respective owners of Two Men and a Truck, International Car Wash Group and Basecamp Fitness as among some of their non-food-related investments

Roark brings in "approximately $77 billion in annual system revenues" through its array of ventures, the company has said.

The private equity firm’s name derives from the main character in Ayn Rand’s 1943 book "The Fountainhead." How it operates is "meant to emulate those principles of independence and integrity" that the character showed, according to Roark.

Joe Toppe contributed to this report.

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