Exclusive: Whataburger explores options including a stake sale - sources


Joshua Franklin, Reuters 

May 6, 2019


(Reuters) - Privately held U.S. fast-food chain Whataburger is exploring options that could include selling a minority stake to a financial investor or private equity firm, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.


With the majority of its locations in Texas, Whataburger lacks the broader, national recognition of chains such as Shake Shack Inc and In-N-Out Burger, but it is larger than both, according to rankings published by trade magazine QSR. It could fetch a valuation of more than $6 billion, according to one of the sources.


San Antonio, Texas-based Whataburger has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to manage the process, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the details are confidential.


The sources asked for anonymity and cautioned that there is no certainty a deal will happen.


“Our company is growing and is always attractive to investors, we constantly get inquiries,” Whataburger said in a statement. “We have always evaluated the opportunities that can accelerate growth and maintain the success of our brand, and we will continue to do so in the future.”


Morgan Stanley did not immediately provide comment.


A stake sale could help Whataburger’s founding family take some cash out of the business without surrendering control. An influx of new money could also potentially...