Arby’s to purchase Buffalo Wild Wings

NILES — Arby’s has announced plans to buy casual dining chain Buffalo Wild Wings in a deal worth about $2.4 billion.

The move would make Buffalo Wild Wings, based in Minneapolis, the latest casual restaurant chain to be taken private.

Atlanta-based Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. said Tuesday it would pay $157 per share. That’s a 7 percent premium to Buffalo Wild Wings Inc.’s Monday closing price of $146.40.

The companies put the transaction’s value at $2.9 billion, including debt. Closing the deal would make Buffalo Wild Wings, which serves chicken wings in a sports bar-like atmosphere, a privately held subsidiary of Arby’s operating as an independent brand.

The deal is expected to close in 2018’s first quarter, contingent upon the approval of Buffalo Wild Wings shareholders.

In the most recent quarter, Buffalo Wild Wings, which has locations in Niles, Austintown and Boardman, reported a 2.3 percent sales drop at its established restaurants. The restaurant chain’s shares rose $9.20, or 6.3 percent, to $155.60 in Tuesday trading.

Other chains that have been taken private this year include Panera Bread, which was bought in July for more than $7 billion by JAB Holding Co., and sit-down chain Ruby Tuesday Inc., which agreed last month to be sold to private-equity firm NRD Capital for $146 million.

Analysts said the two chains seemed to be a good match for each other.

“They both appeal to men,” says Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst at NPD. Both are also popular among families with kids, she says.

The first Arby’s was opened in Boardman in 1964 by the Raffel Brothers, or R.B.’s. — Forrest and Leroy Raffel, of New Castle, Pa. It is majority owned by private equity firm Roark Capital Group, which also has investments in Hardee’s, Jimmy John’s and other chains.