Carl's Jr. owner CKE to be sold to Cinnabon owner Roark

Carpinteria-based CKE Inc., which owns fast-food chain Carl’s Jr., will be sold by its private equity owner to another private equity firm that owns major brands such as Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s.

CKE was bought by an affiliate of Roark Capital Group, an Atlanta firm whose portfolio is stuffed with names such as Wingstop, Corner Bakery Cafe, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Arby’s.

Roark will acquire a majority stake in CKE, which also runs brands such as Hardee’s, Green Burrito and Red Burrito. CKE senior management will retain a minority stake.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We were right in their line of vision,” said CKE Chief Executive Andy Puzder in an interview. “We’re just the kind of company they like. They were ready to step it up.”

The company is currently controlled by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, which took over in 2010 in a deal worth roughly $694 million.

The transaction with Roark is expected to close in the fourth quarter, assuming that it passes regulatory hurdles.

CKE has a long history entwined with Southern California. The company began as a Los Angeles hot dog stand founded in the 1940s by entrepreneur Carl Karcher. Last summer, it scrapped plans to go public.

These days, it’s known for its juicy burgers and steamy ads featuring celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Kate Upton. The company has some 3,400 restaurants in 42 states and 29 countries and territories, with roughly $3.9 billion in annual revenue.


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