Whataburger announces acquisition by BDT Capital Partners: 69 year-old chain exploring expansion plans

Whataburger announced today that BDT Capital Partners, LLC, a merchant bank that advises and invests in family and founder-led companies, has agreed to acquire through its affiliated funds a majority interest in Whataburger.

Together, BDT and the Whataburger team will begin exploring expansion plans – while staying true to the brand it has been over the past 69 years.

The company also announced an internal leadership realignment to position the brand for long-term growth and success. Most notably, the company named several new internal promotions, including a president, chief operating officer and chief restaurant operating officer.

Whataburger headquarters will remain in San Antonio.

New partnership poises the brand for long-term growth

“Whataburger has grown significantly over the years. And, in order to keep satisfying our customers, we’ve been exploring different options to expand the brand and introduce it to new audiences. We’ve gone through this process purposefully and diligently because we wanted to find a partner who honors our values, culture and 69-year legacy of family tradition,” said Whataburger President/CEO Preston Atkinson.

“We’re excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we’ve built,” Atkinson continued. “They want to preserve it while they help us continue growing a sustainable, competitive business over a long period of time. They don’t plan to change our recipe for success.”

BDT will be key in providing strategic vision and long-term growth capital to the tenured Whataburger leadership team.

“Whataburger is an iconic brand and extraordinary company with an important legacy of family ownership, loyal customers, valuable community involvement, dedicated and talented employees, and a highly experienced management team,” said Tiffany Hagge, Managing Director of BDT Capital Partners. “We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Whataburger team, continuing their commitment to serving high-quality, great-tasting food at a value and delivering a superior customer experience. We are excited to support Whataburger as they continue to innovate and pursue accelerated growth in existing and new markets. This investment is a perfect example of BDT’s business model – to partner and invest alongside exceptional family businesses, with strong cultures, deep community ties and loyal customers.”

Morgan Stanley and Ernst & Young (EY) acted as transaction advisors and Jackson Walker acted as legal advisor to Whataburger. Norton Rose Fulbright acted as legal advisor to BDT Capital Partners. Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, Inc. will provide the committed financing to support the transaction. Closing of the transaction is expected later this summer and is subject to customary regulatory and other conditions. Additional terms were not disclosed.

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