MANILA - Jollibee Foods Corp said Wednesday it would invest 45 million Singapore dollars (P1.74 billion) in a private equity fund that is set to acquire the master franchise of Tim Ho Wan in the Asia Pacific.
Jollibee said it would account for 45 percent of total committed investments in Titan Dining LP, worth 100 million Singapore dollars.
Titan, according to Jollibee, has a binding agreement to acquire 100 percent of the Asia-Pacific master franchise holder of the Tim Ho Wan brand, Tim Ho Wan Pte Ltd (THWPL) and its affiliate Dim Sum Pte Ltd.
The transaction will be seen as a "positive" by the market, as the Philippines' largest fast food operator has been on an acquisition and expansion binge overseas, said BPI Securities research head Haj Narvaez.
Jollibee recently secured US government approval for its acquisition of more shares in Smashburger. It also opened its first European store in March and a third outlet in Canada in April.
The Tim Ho Wan investment will bring "very healthy financial returns" to Jollibee, said JFC chairman Tony Tan Caktiong.
"Our long-term interest in Tim Ho Wan is in line with JFC’s mission: to serve great tasting food and spread the joy of eating to everyone," he said.
The deal will combine Tim Ho Wan's Michellin-starred barbecue pork buns with Jollibee's stable of Chinese restaurants: Chowking in the Philippines, and Yonghe King and Hong Zhuang Yuan in China.
The trio of Chinese restaurants accounted for 23 percent of system-wide sales in 2017, said Jollibee, whose flagship brand is known for fried chicken, burgers and sweet-style spaghetti.
Jollibee said it would have the option to acquire "substantial ownership" of the Tim Ho Wan master franchise in the Asia Pacific after the term of Titan Dining ends in 7 years.
The Filipino company said it would operate as a Tim Ho Wan franchisee in Shanghai to prepare for that possibility.