Business

Bojangles’ prices IPO between $15 and $17 a share

A pan of hot biscuits at the annual Bojangles' Master Biscuit Maker Challenge in 2011. Bojangles’ said Monday it will price its stock between $15 and $17 a share.
A pan of hot biscuits at the annual Bojangles' Master Biscuit Maker Challenge in 2011. Bojangles’ said Monday it will price its stock between $15 and $17 a share. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-based Bojangles’, which said this month it is going public, will price its stock between $15 and $17 a share and will sell at least 6.2 million shares, according to a securities filing late Monday.

The fast-food chain’s initial public offering could raise about $122 million, if underwriters exercise their option to buy an additional 937,500 shares. Monday’s filing did not say when shares would begin trading, but disclosing the price range is a sign the date is drawing closer.

Bojangles’, known for its fried chicken, biscuits and sweet tea, has said the shares will trade on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol “BOJA.”

The IPO will allow investors to buy a piece of a Charlotte company founded in 1977 by Jack Fulk Sr. and Richard Thomas. The first restaurant was at West Boulevard and South Tryon Street, and the headquarters is now off West Arrowood Road.

The proceeds of the offering will go to some of the company’s investors, not Bojangles’ itself. According to the filing Monday, the largest holder of Bojangles’ shares, private equity firm Advent International, could sell up to 6.8 million shares, if the underwriters buy their extra allotment.

Advent, however, would continue to control about 75 percent of the company’s stock. Advent bought a controlling stake in Bojangles’ in 2011 from Falfurrias Capital Partners, the Charlotte-based private-equity firm co-founded by former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. and Mark Oken, a former BOA chief financial officer.

Other investors selling shares, according to the filing, include Bojangles’ chairman Randy Kibler and Tri-Arc Food Systems, a franchisee whose investors include Carolinas Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.

After the IPO, Bojangles’ would have 35.9 million shares outstanding, according to the filing. At $17, the company would have a total market value of about $610 million. Rival Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen had a market value of about $1.37 billion on Monday.

In its IPO filing earlier this month, Bojangles said it plans a big expansion, though it will remain mostly in areas where it already has a presence. The company operates 622 restaurants in 10 states and the District of Columbia, though two-thirds of its restaurants are in the Carolinas.

The chain attempted a significant expansion in the 1980s, growing into New York and Honduras, before shrinking to fewer than 200 restaurants.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Jefferies are the banks leading the IPO, according to Monday’s filing.

The most-recent high-growth restaurant concept to go public – burger-chain Shake Shack – has seen its shares jump 230 percent since its IPO in January, according to Renaissance Capital.

Warren Solochek, vice president of the food service business at New York-based market research company NPD Group, said Bojangles’ IPO price falls about in the middle of where other traditional fast-food players have priced their shares in public offerings over the past two years.

Not all restaurants that have gone public see the same rise in their stock prices, he said. Shares of restaurants in the more upscale fast-casual segment, such as Shake Shack and Chipotle, have tended to command higher prices than traditional fast-food outlets such as Bojangles’, he said.

Jason Moser, analyst with The Motley Fool, said he does not expect Bojangles’ price to double on the first day of trading, as some other restaurant stocks have.

“It’s a very competitive landscape out there, and they have a much smaller footprint than their bigger competitors. Taking more market share will be harder for them to do.”

Bojangles’ would become the fourth Charlotte-area company to go public since 2013. Of those IPOs, health care company Premier Inc. raised $874 million, the largest initial public offering for a Charlotte-based company since at least 1980. Staff Writer Katherine Peralta contributed.

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