Jollibee buys 47% stake in US-based Mexican restaurant

By Richmond Mercurio

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino fastfood giant Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) is acquiring $12.4 million worth of shares in a US-based restaurant chain that serves Mexican food.

JFC told the local bourse yesterday that its wholly-owned subsidiary Jollibee Foods Corp. (USA) has entered into a business venture with Tortas Frontera LLC owned by award-winning chef Rick Bayless to build a Mexican fast-casual restaurant business in the US.

JFC will invest $12.4 million for 47 percent of the fully-diluted membership interests in Tortas Frontera.

The remaining 53 percent membership interests in Tortas Frontera will be held by Bayless and other shareholders.

JFC said the transaction is still subject to the fulfillment of agreed closing conditions.

The fastfood giant said the partnership is in line with its strategy to continue building its business abroad and expanding its presence in North America.

The company said Mexican food is a rapidly-growing and very popular segment in the US restaurant industry with estimated sales of $45 billion in 2017.

“Together with chef Rick Bayless’ organization and brand Tortas Frontera, we will build a significant business in the large and fast-growing Mexican food category in the United States. This venture is very much in line with JFC’s mission: to serve great tasting food and spread the joy of eating to everyone,” JFC chairman Tony Tan Caktiong said.

Tortas Frontera, which is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, currently has four restaurants in the US – three in Chicago O’Hare International Airport and one at The Arc in the University of Pennsylvania.

It is owned and founded by Bayless, an award-winning chef and is author of nine cookbooks.

“We at Jollibee Foods Corp. are very excited about this new partnership. We have great admiration for chef Rick Bayless for being a top chef, for being a successful restaurateur and for his philanthropic endeavors,” Tan Caktiong said.

JFC is Asia’s largest food service company with 4,279 stores worldwide as of end-June.

The company has a total of 436 stores in North America composed of 349 Smashburger, 37 Jollibee US, three Jollibee Canada, 32 Red Ribbon, and 15 Chowking.

In the Philippines, it has 2,957 restaurant outlets, including 1,094 Jollibee brand, 542 Chowking, 277 Greenwich, 434 Red Ribbon, 514 Mang Inasal, and 96 Burger King.

*This article was copied and originally published at The Philippine Star, last September 8, 2018 and can also be found at https://www.philstar.com/business/2018/09/08/1849534/jollibee-buys-47-stake-us-based-mexican-restaurant

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