Jollibee to buy Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for $350 million

Jessica Fenol and Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2019 01:03 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2019 05:23 PM

MANILA – (UPDATE) Jollibee Foods Corp said Wednesday it would buy Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in a deal worth a total $350 million (P18 billion), the largest in its string of global acquisitions.

The Philippines' largest fast food operator said it would invest $100 million in a new Singapore-based holdings company to acquire 100 percent of the California-based specialty coffee chain.

“The acquisition of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf will be JFC’s largest and most multinational so far with business presence in 27 countries,” founder Tony Tan Caktiong said.

Shares of Jollibee were down 6.74 percent at the close of trading on Wednesday, against a 1.04 percent decline in the main index. Investors were worried over Coffee Bean's "lackluster" showing in the last 2 years, said Regina Capital head of sales Luis Limlingan.

"Even though it usually takes around 3 years for JFC to turn its acquired businesses around, it does add challenge considering that the firm is still in the midst of rationalizing Smashburger's operations," he said.

Smashburger is Jollibee's fast casual burger chain in the US that challenges Five Guys and Shake Shack.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf brand has 1,189 outlets as of December 2018, Jollibee said. It will add specialty coffee to the Jollibee stable which includes hamburgers, fried chicken, pizza and Chinese food.

Java Ventures LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jollibee Worldwide, will be the acquiring entity. It will also be a wholly-owned unit of the new holding firm, Jollibee said.

Jollibee is expected to comply with the Philippine Competition Act in relation to the proposed acquisition, Philippine Competition Commission chairman Arsenio Balisacan said. 

Last year, Jollibee took a 47-percent stake in Mexican chain Tortas Frontera, which serves pulled pork, chorizo and beef sandwiches with sides of guacamole and cilantro salsa.

Earlier in 2018, Jollibee invested P1.74 billion to acquire the Asia Pacific master franchise holder of Tim Ho Wan, famous for its barbecue pork buns.

In home turf, the company is expanding its portfolio that includes 3,000 Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwhich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal and Burger King stores.

In September 2018, Jollibee announced its 50-50 joint venture with the owners of Panda Express to bring the brand and its signature orange chicken to the Philippines.

In April 2018, Jollibee announced its investment in SuperFoods Group to bring the Vietnamese noodle soup chain PHO24 to the country.