Dunkin' Donuts Poised for Plunge

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 5, 2011 | Go to article overview

Dunkin' Donuts Poised for Plunge


Byline: Christina Rexrode Associated Press

NEW YORK -- First, Dunkin' Brands brought us the "Time to Make the Donuts" guy. Now it has decided it's time to be not just a place to get coffee but also a stock on the Nasdaq.

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 in an initial public offering, largely to pay off debt.

The company didn't say when the offering might be, or how many individual shares it would offer. If all goes as planned, its ticker will be "DNKN."

Dunkin' Brands is currently owned by a trio of private-equity firms, who 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 shares, the company said.

The company said it would use its proceeds from the stock offering to pay down about $475 million in high-interest debt owed to banks. That money was borrowed partly to pay a $500 million dividend to some of the company's current shareholders.

Dunkin' is also hoping it will have money left over to fund ambitious expansion plans.

The Massachusetts-based company already has loads of stores in the northeastern U.S. -- about one for every 9,700 people. Now it wants to expand into the unconquered western U.S., where it averages one store per 1.2 million people.

Its owners have led it on an expansion roll. It's 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. It moved into gas stations and started selling its coffee beans in grocery stores. It ran commercials with a supermodel and the guitarist from Kiss.

And, perhaps most importantly, it's waging a culture war with Starbucks for the hearts and discretionary spending of coffee drinkers. …

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