Reports that firm with ties to Buffett is considering Panera bid are untrue, sources say

Warren Buffett
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Private equity giant 3G Capital is not looking to outbid JAB Holdings for Panera Bread, sources told CNBC on Tuesday.

Panera shares pared back earlier gains following CNBC's report, trading up less than 0.5 percent shortly after market open.

Panera did not immediately respond to request for comment.

A report surfaced Monday that JAB's buyout deal of Panera Bread might not be sealed just yet, with sources telling the New York Post there could be other options on the table for Panera to consider. Brazilian-based 3G Capital, which owns Burger King and Tim Hortons, was said to be weighing a rival bid for the fast-casual chain, the paper reported late Monday, citing unidentified sources close to the situation.

Earlier this month, JAB — the owner of Caribou Coffee and Peet's Coffee & Tea — offered Panera Chief Executive Ron Shaich $315 in cash per share for the company, representing a more than 20 percent premium to the stock's closing price on March 31, the last trading day before media began reporting on the potential deal.

If 3G were to decide to top JAB's $7.5 billion offer, it would put two of the world's largest private equity firms in direct competition for Panera's more than 2,000 U.S. bakery cafes. Both firms have been making lots of deals as of late, and in February 3G's $143 billion approach for Unilever was rejected.

St. Louis-based Panera has reportedly agreed to pay JAB a termination fee of $215 million, or 3 percent, if it accepts a greater offer.

3G Capital did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Lazard declined commenting to CNBC.

Further, the Post headline said: "Buffett-backed firm interested in bid for Panera Bread: sources," although there was no indication in the Post's report that Warren Buffett would be involved in the potential bidding for Panera. The Brazilian PE firm has teamed up with the billionaire investor for deals in the past.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

With many acquisition rumors swirling of late, shares of Panera have risen more than 45 percent over the past three months.

PNRA 3-month performance