JAB to Buy Sandwich Chain Pret A Manger From Bridgepoint

Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee said it was `a day of celebration

Pret's private equity owner, Bridgepoint, bought the chain at the height of the buyout boom in 2008 for 500 million euros.

JAB, run by Peter Harf, Bart Becht and Olivier Goudet, has spent more than $30 billion (U.S.) building its coffee-focused empire, which also includes Keurig Green Mountain Inc. of the USA and three chains in Europe - Espresso House in Sweden, Baresso in Denmark and Balzac in Germany.

Pret has 530 locations, known largely for sandwiches and salads.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, Pret CEO Clive Schlee announced the company would give each of the chain's 12,000 employees 1,000 pounds, the equivalent of about $1,300, upon the closing of the deal.

"Today is a big day for Pret", Schlee said.

Bridgepoint, which bought Pret for £364m a decade ago, had been considering listing the firm in NY. JAB is said to be preparing to open more Pret locations in the USA, drawing on its background in coffee to drive growth. Last year, Bridgepoint reportedly considered taking Pret to the stock markets through an initial public offering - but ultimately made a decision to sell the company outright.

"We look forward to working with Clive Schlee and his management team, while promoting the Pret brand and supporting Pret's impressive culture for the next phase in the company's growth with JAB". The Financial Times reported earlier on the deal and the purchase price. In January, JAB's Keurig Green Mountain Inc. agreed to take control of Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. for $18.7 billion.

JAB, run by Peter Harf, Bart Becht and Olivier Goudet, also is the largest shareholder in beauty company Coty Inc., owns a controlling stake in luxury goods company Bally and has a minority holding in consumer-goods maker Reckitt Benckiser Plc.

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