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CEO Explains Purchase of 40% of Smashburger by Asia-Based Company

Jollibee fast food. photo by Pualani
Jollibee in Iwilei area of Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Pualani Jensen.

It is not often that we in the U.S. hear about a Filipino company buying a large chunk of an American company. Manila-based Jollibee Food Corporations, a fast-growing owner of Asian restaurant chains, and the buyer of 40 percent of Smashburger, is paying a cool $100 million for its stake. The company is headed by Tony Tan Caktiong, founder and chairman, and younger brother Ernesto Tanmantiong, president and CEO, sons of Chinese immigrants to the Philippines from Fujian province, mainland China.

Rick Schaden bought into Smashburger ownership with his and his father's private equity firm, Consumer Capital Partners, soon after the founding of the burger chain. Smashburger now has about 335 restaurants in 35 states and 7 countries, with approximately 60 percent company-owned. 

Smashburger CEO Scott Crane stated to The Wall Street Journal that having an investment partner rather than going public “is really a way to grow smartly without worrying about the volatility of the stock market.” 

Explaining about the hook-up with the Philippines-based chain, Crane said:

"Jollibee is the largest restaurant chain in Asia, operating a global network of over 3,000 restaurants worldwide. Jollibee has been actively seeking an investment in a leading U.S. growth brand that aligned with their customer-first approach and chose Smashburger as a leader in the fast casual category. The transaction represents Jollibee Foods Corporation’s largest acquisition to date, and its largest investment outside the Philippines." — Cherryh Butler, Fast Casual

CEO Crane says the new minority ownership will not change Smashburger's operating procedures, nor will it affect the supply chain:

The new partnership will not affect supply chain. We will continue serving our guests fresh, never-frozen, 100-percent Certified Angus Beef burgers and as part of the brand DNA, we always look at leading menu innovation and providing the best guest experience possible. — Fast Casual

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