M&A wrap: Fat Brands, Yalla, Fatburger, Hurricane Grill Wings, Nasdaq


Photo credit: Yalla

Fat Brands Inc. (Nasdaq: FAT) has acquired Yalla Mediterranean, a restaurant chain that offers authentic, healthful Mediterranean cuisine that is served in “environmentally-friendly operations.” The target’s menu features Greek wraps, power greens salads, and basmati rice platters, and has around seven locations mainly in California. Yalla joins Fat Brands’ portfolio of brands, including: Fatburger, Buffalo’s Café, Buffalo’s Express, Hurricane Grill Wings, Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses. “Yalla Mediterranean’s commitment to authentic, healthy and responsibly-sourced products aligns strongly with Fat Brands’ commitment to providing guests with high-quality, made-to-order meals,” says Fat Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn. “By bringing Yalla Mediterranean into the Fat Brands family, we’ll be able to help the brand grow its footprint in its existing markets and expand to new markets through our extensive network of franchise partners.” Fat Brands franchises more than 300 restaurants worldwide and has over 300 additional restaurants under development in 32 countries. Demand for authentic, healthy cuisine is one of the drivers in restaurant M&A. Read the full story: What’s attracting hungry buyers to restaurants? Here are 7 trends.

Deal news
Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) has acquired Quandl Inc., a financial data company. The move is part of Nasdaq’s strategy to to maximize opportunities as a technology and analytics provider to capital markets, as well as its capital deployment and return on investment capital objectives.

Irving Place Capital has purchased the Coker Group, a manufacturer and supplier of automotive tires.

Spire Capital-backed Dynamic Quest has bought network services provider Enroute Services.

Featured content
Private equity firms are giving back – organizing groceries at food pantries, mentoring students in schools, running races for cancer cures and pitching in at animal shelters. In time for the holidays, Mergers & Acquisitions highlights the philanthropic and volunteering initiatives of 5 PE firms: the Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq: CG), Frontier Capital, Huron Capital, the Riverside Co. and Star Mountain Capital. At Carlyle, charity starts at the top, with CEO David Rubenstein’s signing of The Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Community involvement is more important than ever to today’s work force. Millennials, defined as people born between 1981 and 1996 by the Pew Research Center, are “for sustainability, diversity, inclusion and giving back to the community,” says Carlyle managing director Christopher Ullman. “We are finding this more and more. Yes, we are here to make money, secure retirement for pensioners, but the firm wants to support people’s efforts to make the world a better place.” Frontier Capital supports several causes, including The Miracle League, a baseball organization for people who are mentally and physically challenged. “There’s more to life than work and material things, and our people understand that,” says Frontier managing partner Andrew Lindner. At Detroit-based Huron Capital, the firm’s philanthropic efforts are focused on local groups. “We want to leave our footprint in this community where we live and work while being as helpful as possible,” says partner Gretchen Perkins. “The charitable activities we do as a group, the ability for each employee to influence where Huron’s donations go, and the ability to perform community service during work hours, or receive matching funds for an employee’s personal non-profit passion, all contribute to a portion of an employee’s sense of purpose and contributing to the greater good.” Read the full story, The Big Give.

We asked dealmakers at ACG Philadelphia’s M&A East to share their thoughts on Giving Back. Check out our video interview with Baker Tilly Capital’s Judit Nagy-Eichelber: Volunteer work brings teams together. Also watch our conversation with Reed Smith’s Jonathan Moyer: For millennial dealmakers, giving back is part of who they are.

Holiday shopping is in full swing, and the the pressure on retailers is more intense than ever. Consumers are choosing retailers that match their values. For example, Canadian retail giant Empire Company Ltd. (TSE: EMP.A) has agreed to buy fast-growing farm-to-table grocer Farm Boy for $800 million from Boston private equity firm Berkshire Partners LLC. Farm Boy offers fresh, ready-to-eat and private label offerings are particularly appealing to urban and suburban consumers. Technology is driving many of the transactions. Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) recently agreed to spend $800 million to buy GreatCall, a provider of emergency response services for seniors, from Chicago private equity firm GTCR. Meanwhile, GreatCall announced a partnership with on-demand transportation provider Lyft to make it easier for seniors to get car service. “Many of the challenges that retailers are currently facing are due more to a lack of innovation and investment in technology, and that they are not able to compete with Amazon,” said Alex Monahan, a consumer products senior analyst at tax and consulting firm RSM US LLP. “Investors want to see that retailers are adjusting to consumer’s changing preferences and striving to provide seamless multi-channel experiences, while also investing in technology to address the tight labor markets.” Amazon, Walmart, Ikea, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Farm Boy are among the retailers turning to M&A. For more, see 5 trends driving retail M&A.

The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Washington Redskins 28-13 on Monday night. Off the field, many football players invest in companies. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently teamed with former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who is the co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America, to launch a sports media startup called Religion of Sports Media, which has raised $3 million in venture capital funding from CourtsideVC and Advancit Capital. Muhsin Muhammad, who played wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears, is a managing director of private equity firm Axum Capital Partners. Steve Young, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, is a co-founder of private equity firm HGGC. View our slideshow, NFL stars Tom Brady, Michael Strahan, Steve Young go PE.

Events
ACG New York Women of Leadership Summit brings together women in the middle-market dealmaking community for a day focused on networking and knowledge sharing on Jan. 17 at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel. Alexa Von Tobel, chief innovation officer of Northwestern Mutual, keynotes.

Exponent Women kicks off the new year with an evening of networking on Jan. 24 at The Campbell, at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. Jazz Age financier John W. Campbellconverted the space to his private office and reception hall in 1923, and it has recently been restored by design firm Ingrao Inc.


Demitri Diakantonis

Demitri Diakantonis

Demitri Diakantonis joined SourceMedia in 2015 and serves as Managing Editor of Mergers & Acquisitions. He covers all aspects of middle-market dealmaking, with a focus on strategic buyers and the consumer and retail sectors, and writes The Buyside column.


Mary Kathleen Flynn

Mary Kathleen Flynn

Mary Kathleen Flynn joined SourceMedia in 2011, serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Mergers & Acquisitions. MK oversees the brand’s content on all media platforms, including website, e-newsletters, video, slideshows, podcasts and print.