#72 The King is Dead. Long live the King!


Looking at the mere numbers, Burger King does look impressive. Burger King operates close to 11,000 franchises and owns close to 1,500 restaurants globally. It is present in 76 countries where 40 % of all of its restaurants are located. Unfortunately, 40 % of the restaurants abroad only generate about 30 % of the total revenue. Plus, Burger King hasn’t been doing so well in the home market, either. Time to change gears, time to change owners. Only eight years ago, Burger King switched owners when Diageo, the spirits maker based in the UK sold the fast food chain to a consortium of investment firms made up of TPG Capital, Bain Capital, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. After its owners took Burger King public in 2006, it will now sell itself to private equity group 3G Capital. What is interesting besides the 3.3 bn US$ price tag which presents a hefty 46 % premium, is the fact that 3G capital is backed by Brazilian interests including Brazilian billionaire, Harvard graduate, Wimbledon tennis player, and resident of Switzerland, Jorge Paulo Lemann. It therefore doesn’t come as a big surprise that plans have already been announced to expand foreign operations into Latin America, with a focus on Brazil. It’ll be interesting to see if the mastermind behind some of the most publicized deals in the beer market can work his magic for Burger King. In the past, Burger King hasn’t been doing so well in a number of foreign markets, including Europe. Burger King has been in Finland for a short period of time in the 1980s before leaving again, it has briefly been in Greece in the 1990s, it pulled out of France in 1998, then left the Ukraine in 2006, and closed operations in Iceland in 2008. They left and re-entered countries such as Austria and Japan. It seems that in many markets they have been up against first movers such as McDonald’s or KFC. But that alone would be nothing but a bad excuse that no executive should get away with. Ill advised product programming, price strategies gone haywire, restaurant design that falls way behind that of McDonald’s restaurants, and a less than ideal use of technology that allows to track trends in sales in real time have all contributed to its poor performance abroad. It seems as if global market potential is there, but Burger King has never been able to fully tap into it. Brazil seems to be different. Burger King has entered the country in 2004 and expanded impressively since then. With its  GDP per capita steadily growing since 2002, the Brazilian market certainly holds a lot of promise for Burger King.

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