Philippines’ Jollibee raises stake in U.S. based Smashburger Master: Reuters

Philippine fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp (JFC.PS) said it would pay $100 million for a 45 percent stake in Smashburger Master, making it the majority owner of the U.S. hamburger chain, as it steps up its global presence.

Jollibee currently owns a 40 percent stake in the Denver-based company through its Bee Good! Inc subsidiary.

“JFC will be able to participate in the very large mainstream American consumer market in addition to serving Filipino-Americans there,” Jollibee said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Jollibee, with a market value of $5.7 billion, operates the largest food service network in the Philippines with 2,700 restaurant outlets, including its eponymous chain of fast-food stores with the ubiquitous smiling bee logo.

The share purchase, which still needs U.S. government approval, will increase Jollibee’s global store network by 365 stores to 4,162 and expand its overseas presence to 21 countries from 16, Jollibee said.

Jollibee, which outsells McDonald’s (MCD.N) and KFC (YUM.N) restaurants in the Philippines, has been seeking a push into global markets to boost sales and profit.

In September, people familiar with the matter said Jollibee, popular in the Philippines for its sweet-style spaghetti and fried chicken, was considering bidding for Pret A Manger, a UK-based chain selling organic coffee and wholesome sandwiches to office workers.