Papa John's spikes after a report says Papa John is in talks to try and buy back the pizza chain

Papa John's surged 10% Wednesday after CNBC reported its former CEO, John Schnatter, has been reaching out to private equity firms as he eyes buying back the company he founded in 1984.

"Several private equity firms have turned him down though, concerned about of the reputational risks inherent in partnering with him" CNBC's Lauren Hirsch reports.

"Meantime, those interested in buying Papa John's do not believe that working with Schnatter is the best path towards a winning offer, some of the sources say."

RELATED: Take a look at John Schnatter throughout his tenure as CEO of Papa John's:

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Papa John's controversial founder John Schnatter
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Papa John's controversial founder John Schnatter
John Schnatter, founder and chief executive of Papa John's Pizza, arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS FOOD) (AMA-ARRIVALS)
John Schnatter (R), founder and chief executive of Papa John's Pizza, arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS FOOD) (AMA-ARRIVALS)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: A Papa John's restaurant is seen on July 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. The founder of Papa John's pizza, John Schnatter, apologized Wednesday for using the N-word on a conference call in May. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12, 2014: 'Papa' John Schnatter, founder and CEO of 'Papa John's Pizza' takes part in a radio show prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on October 12, 2014 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 31-10. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 24: Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter attends the Indy 500 on May 23, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04: John Schnatter and Halston Sage attend a basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12, 2014: 'Papa' John Schnatter, founder and CEO of 'Papa John's Pizza' takes part in a radio show prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on October 12, 2014 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 31-10. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: John Schnatter, Founder and Chairman of the Board for Papa John's Pizza, gives a thumbs up before a charity exhibition race against Antron Brown (not pictured) during the the 19th Annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by: Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: John H. Schnatter, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Papa John's International, Inc. rings the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ MarketSite on January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (L) and Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter attend the DirecTV Super Saturday Night at Pier 40 on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic)
Spider Man and Papa John Founder John Schnatter at the Spider-Man and Papa John's Honor 'Hometown Super-Heroes' October 29, 2007 in Times Square in New York City. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Founder of Papa John's Pizza John Schnatter attends the Official After Party for the 2011 American Music Awards held at the Conga Room at L.A. LIVE on November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/AMA2011/Getty Images for AMA)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: 'Papa John's' Pizza Founder John Schnatter arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/AMA2011/Getty Images for AMA)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29: Founder of Papa John's John Schnatter speaks onstage at the Spider-Man and Papa John's Pizza's announcement of 'Hometown Super-Heroes' in Times Square October 29, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 06: Paps John's CEO John Schnatter attends the 132nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
John Schnatter, founder & Pres. of a chain of Papa John's pizza restaurants, w. employees at one of his 1,049 outlets, making a surprise quality check on a row of pizzas layed out on counter at restaurant. (Photo by Taro Yamasaki/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
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Schnatter, who still owns nearly a third of the pizza chain, resigned from its board in July after admitting to using a racial slur on a company conference call in May. He had previously departed his post as CEO last December.

Since Schnatter left the company, Papa John's enacted a "poison pill" provision designed to prevent him from taking over the company by buying its stock on the open market. It's not clear how this caveat may work if a private equity firm — which have been snapping up fast-food shares left and right lately — were to work with Schnatter to acquire a majority stake.

Papa John's shares were down 33% this year. 

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SEE ALSO: Embattled Papa John's exec John Schnatter resigns as chairman of the board at the pizza chain after admitting to using racial slur on a conference call

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