Dunkin' parent plans stock offering

Posted: May 05, 2011

NEW YORK - Dunkin' Donuts made "Munchkins" something to eat rather than characters on The Wizard of Oz. It created Fred the Baker and coined the "Time to Make the Donuts" catchphrase. President Obama worked at its sister company, Baskin-Robbins, when he was a teenager.

And the latest move for the company? It's going public, so it will be not just a place to get coffee but also a ticker on the Nasdaq - DNKN, if all goes as planned.

Dunkin' Brands Group Inc., the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, on Wednesday filed regulatory papers saying it plans to raise as much as $400 million by selling shares to the public, using most of the money to pay off about $475 million in high-interest debt owed to banks.

The company didn't say when the offering might be, or how many shares it would offer.

Dunkin' Brands is currently owned by three private-equity firms, which bought it in 2005 from wine-and-spirits distributor Pernod Ricard. The owners, Bain Capital Partners, Carlyle Group, and Thomas H. Lee Partners, do not plan to sell their stakes, the company said.

After paying off the debt, Dunkin' hopes to have money left to fund expansion plans.

The Canton, Mass., firm is concentrated in the nation's Northeast, where it has about one store for every 9,700 people. It wants to expand into the unconquered West, where it averages one store per 1.2 million people.

Its owners have been reshaping it beyond doughnuts and coffee. The company hired an executive chef and a technology head, added egg-white sandwiches to appeal to the health-conscious, and bragged about its new doughnut with no trans fat.

Dunkin' Brands has about 16,200 locations worldwide, behind Starbucks' 16,900. It lost $1.7 million in the first quarter of 2011, largely tied to costs to refinance debt, compared with $5.9 million in net income the year before.

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