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Jollibee goes Mexican in $12.4-M deal with US chain

/ 05:34 AM September 08, 2018

There is no stopping globe-trotting fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) as it debuts this time in the Mexican restaurant space in the United States by investing in the Tortas Frontera business founded by award-winning chef Rick Bayless.

This partnership with Bayless will be formalized through a $12.4-million investment by JFC in exchange for a 47-percent stake in Chicago-based Tortas Frontera LLC. The remaining 53 percent interest will be held by Bayless and other shareholders.

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This investment is just the latest in JFC’s foray in US food retailing. Its takeover of Colorado-based Smashburger chain earlier allowed it to enter the mainstream American hamburger market.

“We at Jollibee Foods Corporation are very excited about this new partnership. We have great admiration for [Bayless] for being a top chef, for being a successful restaurateur and for his philanthropic endeavors. Together with his organization and brand Tortas Frontera, we will build a significant business in the large and fast-growing Mexican food category in the US,” JFC chair Tony Tan Caktiong said in a press statement on Friday. Mexican food is a rapidly-growing and very popular segment in the US restaurant industry with estimated industry sales of $40-45 billion in 2017.

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The fast-casual dining chain Tortas Frontera has four restaurants in the US—three in Chicago O’Hare International Airport and one at The Arc in the University of Pennsylvania.

Bayless, the chain’s founder, has received numerous James Beard Awards, the most prestigious recognition in culinary arts in the US. He is also known for his long-running public television series and for winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters with his authentic Mexican cuisine.

JFC shares rose by 1.81 percent to close at P281 per share on Friday. This gave the firm a market capitalization of close to P300 billion.

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TAGS: Bayless, jollibee, Jollibee Foods Corp.
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