Whataburger founders sell majority stake to Chicago-based bank


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Iconic Texas burger chain Whataburger announced Friday that the founders have sold their majority stake to BDT Capital Partners, LLC, a merchant bank based in Chicago.

“Together, BDT and the Whataburger team will begin exploring plans – while staying true to the brand it has been over the past 69 years,” officials wrote in a press release Friday.

In May, the company announced it hired financial services company Morgan Stanley to help explore a possible sale. The company pegs this sale as a way for the chain to expand.

“In order to keep satisfying our customers, we’ve been exploring different options to expand the brand and introduce it to new audiences,” current President / CEO Preston Atkinson said. “We’ve gone through this process purposefully and diligently because we wanted to find a partner who honors our values, culture and 69-year legacy of family tradition.”

While financial details surrounding the sale weren’t disclosed, Restaurant Business magazine reported Whataburger had sales of more than $2.2 billion in 2018.

Whataburger’s internal leadership was also overhauled with several new appointees in key positions including President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Restaurant Operating Officer. The company’s headquarters will remain in San Antonio and the change in leadership will be effective July 1.

Atkinson and current Board Chair Tom Dobson will step aside and focus on Las Aguilas, a diversified investment company established by the Dobson family in 2011, officials wrote. They will both remain on the Whataburger board of directors to “provide ongoing guidance and ensure a smooth transition.”

BDT Capital Partners, LLC is a merchant bank that provides long-term capital to family-owned and entrepreneurial businesses.

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