February 7, 2023
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CKE Restaurants sold to Atlanta private equity firm


The buffalo blue cheese burger from Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.

The buffalo blue cheese burger from Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. The brands’ parent company, Carpinteria-based CKE Restaurants, has been sold to an Atlanta-based private equity company that also owns Arby’s and other well-known names. (CKE media photo)

CKE Restaurants, the Carpinteria-based parent of Carl’s Jr. and Hardees, has been sold to an Atlanta private equity firm specializing in restaurant chains.

The price was not disclosed and the sale to an affiliate of Roark Capital Group comes five months after Apollo Global Management hired Goldman Sachs to explore a sale or spinoff of the company it purchased in 2010.

CEO Andy Puzder is expected to remain at the helm of the restaurant chain known for its big burgers and raunchy TV ads. It will join Roark affiliated companies, which include Arby’s, Cinnabon, Carvel, Wingstop, Corner Bakery and a number of others.

Nation’s Restaurant News reported that Atlanta-based Roark likes to operate restaurant brands with a strong emphasis on franchising. CKE has 3,381 restaurants and systemwide revenue of about $3.9 billion annually.

While Arby’s is a competitor in the quick-service food sector, Roark does not have a specialized burger chain of national scale in its portfolio.

In a love-fest of press statements, Neil Aronson, Roark’s managing partner, said he welcomed the chance to partner with an “A-plus management team led by Andy Puzder.” Puzder in his statement said his team was “looking forward to a long-term partnership with Roark Capital Group.”

Long a publicly-traded company, CKE was taken private for about $1 billion by private equity giant Apollo Global in 2010. But within two years, Apollo was exploring taking CKE public again; it filed for an initial public offering for CKE but the deal did not attract a lot of attention on Wall Street and Apollo opted for a refinancing of CKE debt instead.

Roark gives CKE access to restaurant expertise and a stable ownership platform for the near term.