UK fund buys key stake in Burger King
Boston, April 8, 2012
Justice Holding, the London-based investment vehicle co-founded by hedge fund manager William Ackman, said it has bought a 29 per cent stake in leading hamburger chain Burger King for $1.4 billion.
The deal paves the way for Burger King to be traded again on the New York Stock Exchange within the next 60 to 90 days.
Ackman also has a stake in 3G Capital Management, the buyout shop which took Burger King private in 2010 and is selling a portion of its interest to Justice.
As per the deal, Burger King’s management team will remain intact and 3G Capital retains 71 per cent of the company, said Ackman, who runs Pershing Square Capital Management, the $10 billion hedge fund that will own a 10 per cent stake in the No.3 US hamburger chain long known for its grinning 'King' advertising mascot.
From his midtown Manhattan office, Ackman served as the bridge between 3G Capital and Justice, fashioning a multi-tiered role for himself to create an innovative deal that he said should pay off big for everyone.
Justice's shares will stop trading on the London Stock Exchange when the deal is done and be listed as Burger King Worldwide in New York instead.
Many investors say the hedge fund manager was instrumental in poaching Apple senior vice president Ron Johnson, credited with conceiving the Genius Bar technical support station in Apple retail stores, to run JC Penney.
His fabled efforts include flying across the country to dine with Johnson in California.
However, Ackman may not be on the front lines as the work continues to buff up Burger King, which lags rivals McDonald's Corp and Wendy's.
'I don't need to join the board of the company because they are already doing the things we need them to do,' Ackman said. Instead Justice Holding's co-founders, Martin Franklin and Alan Parker, will join the board.
And in a dig at McDonald's where Ackman once pushed hard as a shareholder to have the company spin off the restaurants it owns, the manager called the fast food company 'enormously bloated.'
He described how he persuaded 3G to abandon its plans to take Burger King public again down the road, and instead sell a stake now to Justice, which had passed on many other investment opportunities in the last months.
'I put my Justice hat on and made my marketing pitch for Justice,' Ackman added.-Reuters