BDT Capital Partners, an investment banking company based in Chicago, Illinois, has acquired the Texas-based Whataburger fast-food chain.
Whataburger announced June 14 that its company would be transitioning to new ownership. Chairman Tom Dobson and CEO Preston Atkinson will remain on the Whataburger Board of Directors as BDT takes majority control of the company. Its headquarters will remain in San Antonio, Texas.
BDT was founded in 2009. It has provided long-term capital to different family-owned and entrepreneurial businesses. The firm has managed $4.7 billion of co-investments from its global limited partner investor base, along with raising more than $15 billion across its investment funds.
“We’re excited about the partnership with BDT because they respect and admire the brand we’ve built,” Atkinson said. “They want to preserve it while helping us continue growing a sustainable, competitive business over a long period of time.”
BDT and Whataburger embarked on the partnership to allow the fast-food chain to expand and grow while introducing its brand to a new customer base.
“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,” Atkinson said.
Additionally, Whataburger has internally promoted a tenured leadership team with a combined experience of over 150 years with the company.
“We are confident they know exactly what to do to take (Whataburger) into the future and bring our brand to new customers,” said Pam Cox, vice president of Whataburger Brand Communications.
BDT plans to provide the Whataburger tenured leadership team with long-term growth capital and a strategic vision.
“We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Whataburger team, continuing their commitment to serving high-quality, great-tasting food at good value and delivering superior customer experience,” said Tiffany Hagge, managing director of BDT Capital Partners. “We are excited to support Whataburger as the company continues to innovate and pursue accelerated growth in existing and new markets.”
Dobson believes the transition to new majority ownership is both exciting and bittersweet for the Dobson family, who founded the company in 1950 and opened the first Whataburger location in Corpus Christi, Texas. The restaurant has since expanded to 828 different locations across 10 states.
“Whataburger has been the heart and soul of our family legacy for nearly 70 years, but we feel really good about the partnership with BDT,” Dobson said. “They have a track record of success with businesses as special as ours that want to grow while preserving culture and family history.”