By Heather Haddon 

Yum Brands Inc. said it would buy fast-casual burger chain Habit Restaurants Inc. as it seeks to broaden its range of restaurants and reach more customers.

Yum said Monday it had struck a deal to buy the California-based parent of Habit Burger Grill for $14 a share, or about $375 million in cash. Habit's shares closed Friday at $10.51, giving it a valuation of around $275 million. The companies said they expect the deal to close early this summer.

Yum, the parent company of fast-food chains KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, said Habit's fast-casual model has strong potential for international expansion. The chain of around 280 restaurants in the U.S. and China has specialized in chargrilled burgers since opening in 1969.

The deal is Yum's first acquisition of a stand-alone restaurant chain since the company went public in 1997. Yum, formed by a spinoff of the restaurant holdings of PepsiCo Inc., is the world's largest restaurant company by stores, with more than 49,000 in 145 countries.

More U.S. restaurants companies have expanded to own a suite of brands as they seek to keep up with changing dining trends and grow internationally. Fast-casual burger chains in particular have proliferated in recent years.

"We thought it was a sweet spot within fast-casual," Yum's Chief Executive David Gibbs said in an interview. Mr. Gibbs took the helm of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum this month, replacing veteran CEO Greg Creed.

Write to Heather Haddon at heather.haddon@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2020 09:16 ET (14:16 GMT)

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