Applebee's franchisee bids to buy Pizza Hut's largest U.S. operator

Key Points
  • Flynn Restaurant Group will bid $816 million to buy the assets of NPC International, Pizza Hut's largest U.S. franchisee.
  • Flynn operates Applebee's, Panera Bread, Arby's and Taco Bell restaurants in the United States, and the deal would more than double its restaurant footprint.
  • Wendy's said on Monday that it is considering bidding on NPC's locations of the burger chain.
A customer enters a Pizza Hut restaurant in Princeton, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Flynn Restaurant Group has put together a stalking horse bid of $816 million for the assets of NPC International, the operator of hundreds of Pizza Hut and Wendy's restaurants.

NPC, which also operates Wendy's locations, said Friday that it has agreed to accept the bid and will seek approval from the bankruptcy court. The deal would give Flynn, the largest restaurant franchisee in the United States, control of NPC's 1,300 Pizza Hut and Wendy's restaurants and its shared services assets. It would more than double Flynn's total restaurant footprint.

Flynn, which is privately held, has about $2.3 billion in annual sales and operates about 1,200 Applebee's, Panera Bread, Arby's and Taco Bell restaurants. The operator has has agreed to offer employment to substantially all of NPC's more than 30,000 workers. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are both owned by Yum Brands.

NPC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July. As part of an agreement with Pizza Hut, about 300 of its under-performing locations will close permanently, but the rest of its assets were put up for sale.

On Monday, Wendy's said in a regulatory filing that it was considering bidding on the nearly 400 locations of the burger chain that were operated by NPC. The bid would include pre-qualified new and existing franchisees.

Because of the number of locations up for sale, the outcome of the auction could have a drastic impact on Pizza Hut and Wendy's U.S. businesses. Pizza Hut is in the middle of a turnaround and has previously said that it is looking for a new owner with a "healthy balance sheet" and a "strong capital structure."

Both chains sparred with NPC over the terms of the sale process, arguing for more oversight in selecting the next operator or operators of the locations.

A hearing on Nov. 13 will determine if Flynn's stalking horse bid is approved, and a sale hearing will be held Dec. 4.