Panera Bread announces SPAC investment, will return to the public markets through an IPO

Panera Bread will be going public through an initial public offering.
The sandwich chain also announced Tuesday that it had secured investment from Danny Meyer’s special purpose acquisition company USHG Acquisition Corp.

Meyer stated that he will invest in Panera when it becomes public, both personally and through his SPAC. A special purpose acquisition company does not have assets, but can use the funds from an IPO and bank financing to purchase or take public private consumer companies. According to regulatory filings, the Panera investment is a unique deal for a SPAC. It will exchange its shares for Panera's stock and survive Panera's merger with Panera's subsidiary Rye Merger.

SPAC investors have the option to withdraw their money from the deal at any time. Panera's current owner JAB Holding agreed to invest more in order to offset redemptions. Meyer will be the independent lead director for Panera's board once the deal is done.

Panera was taken private by JAB Holding in 2017, after it bought the company for $7.5 million. The company is privately owned and has continued to invest in technology, increasing its digital sales. Panera revealed a new restaurant design earlier this year that was inspired by the changes in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic.

Panera's upcoming IPO marks the latest in a series of changes to JAB's portfolio. This company is the investment arm for the Reimann family. It sold Au Bon Pain earlier in the year to a Yum Brands franchisee. JAB took over many Au Bon Pain restaurants and converted them into Panera restaurants. This reduced the company's footprint from around 300 to just 171. After being owned by JAB since 2016, Krispy Kreme was again listed in July.

Panera is preparing to file paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, several other restaurants have also chosen to join the public market this year, such as First Watch Restaurant Group and Dutch Bros.