Wendy’s, Pizza Hut Franchisee NPC Looks to Sell Itself to Operator of Panera Stores

NPC International Inc., the nation’s largest franchisee of Wendy’s and Pizza Hut restaurants, has a deal to sell itself out of bankruptcy to Flynn Restaurant Group LLC. Flynn, the largest restaurant franchise operator in the U.S., is offering $816 million to buy the more than 1,300 restaurants operated by NPC. NPC filed chapter 11 bankruptcy in July and has been marketing assets. The stalking-horse offer could be subject to higher and better offers and requires bankruptcy court approval. It is likely to face competition from other interested buyers, including possibly Wendy’s Co. itself. Wendy’s said on Nov. 2 that it was considering making an offer for nearly 400 Wendy’s restaurants operated by NPC as part of a consortium with other Wendy’s franchises. Both Wendy’s and Pizza Hut LLC have expressed concerns about NPC’s quick timeline for a sale, and have pushed for greater involvement in vetting who will be the new owner of NPC’s restaurants. Wendy’s has signaled it would oppose a sale to Flynn, which operates Arby’s and Panera Bread restaurants that also sell sandwiches. Wendy’s has traditionally preferred franchisees that only own its restaurants, and Arby’s could be viewed as a direct competitor in the burger business. In addition to the Wendy’s restaurants, NPC operates roughly 900 Pizza Huts.

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