Krispy Kreme-owner JAB to buy bakery chain Panera Bread

JAB Holdings, the owner of Caribou Coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, said on Wednesday it would buy bakery chain Panera Bread Co (PNRA.O) for $7.2 billion, as it expands its coffee and breakfast empire through the biggest-ever U.S. restaurant deal.

JAB, the investment vehicle of Germany's billionaire Reimann family, has built up an empire of coffee and food chains through a series of acquisitions in recent years, including that of K-cup coffee pod-maker Keurig Green Mountain Inc.

Panera has about 2,000 bakery cafes in the United States and its fresh offerings appeal to health-conscious consumers. It has been ramping up its loyalty program, rolling out kiosks to cut customers' waiting times and has expanding its delivery service.

Shares of St. Louis-based Panera jumped 14.2 percent to a record high of $312.98. JAB offered $315 per share in cash, a 20.3 percent premium to the stock's closing price on March 31, the last trading day before media reports of a potential deal.

"We view the acquisition as strategically compelling for JAB ... we view the acquisition price as high enough to preclude a competing financial suitor," Wedbush Securities analyst Nick Setyan said in a note.

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