Jackson Walker advised iconic Texas fast-food chain Whataburger in the sale of a majority interest to BDT Capital Partners, LLC, a Chicago-based merchant bank that advises and invests in family and founder-led companies. Additional terms were not disclosed.
Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas. Today, the company is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with 828 locations in 10 states and sales of more than $2 billion annually.
Together, BDT Capital Partners and the Whataburger team will explore expansion plans while preserving the legacy of the Dobson Family and the company. BDT will be key in providing strategic vision and long-term growth capital to the tenured Whataburger leadership team.
In a statement issued on June 14, 2019, Whataburger President/CEO Preston Atkinson said: “Whataburger has grown significantly over the years. In order to keep satisfying our customers, we’ve been exploring different options to expand the brand and introduce it to new audiences. 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.”
On the partnership, he noted that “BTD wants to preserve the brand we’ve built while they help us continue growing a sustainable, competitive business over a long period of time. They don’t plan to change our recipe for success.”
Representing Whataburger in the transaction was a Jackson Walker team led by partner Patrick B. Tobin along with partner Brandon C. Janes, with assistance from associate Alexine Zacarias Friedman and many others.
“It is an honor and a privilege to represent an iconic Texas family and their one-of-a-kind business in planning and achieving a transformative new partnership,” Patrick said. “The Whataburger we all know and love is now poised for many more years of growth, while maintaining its culture, family legacy, and high-quality food and service.”
In building a tremendous company and in caring so deeply about its 43,000 employees and the communities in which they live, Patrick noted that the Dobson family has set a standard of leadership that can rarely be matched.
“Over the years, Jackson Walker has become the trusted advisor to many large family businesses like Whataburger throughout Texas,” he said. “Helping these families is more than simply practicing law; it is about helping families make decisions that will impact generations to come. To be able to serve in this way provides a purpose much greater than ourselves.”
Jackson Walker’s team included partners Sam K. Hildebrand, Andrew L. Baumgardner, Peter R. Broderick, Brian Dethrow, Leonard H. Dougal, George E. Hinchey, John V. Jansonius, Steven R. Jenkins, Ronald D. Kerridge, Ann M. Leafstedt, William J. McDonough, Jr., James M. McDonough, Mark H. Miller, Amanda Shaw-Castro, and David A. Snyder; senior counsel Erik S. Romberg and Carlos R. Treviño; and associates Arturo Cavazos, Jr., Shari Y. Mao, and Ruth S. Thomson.
On January 8, 2020, The Texas Lawbook listed Whataburger’s sale to BDT Capital among the top 10 most important deals in Texas during 2019. For more information about the transaction, view “Whataburger Positions Itself for the Future.”
Patrick B. Tobin is a trusted legal adviser to companies and their owners. His client base reflects the diversity of industries and company sizes which are in Texas or are investing in Texas businesses. In his practice, Patrick handles a variety of corporate, securities and other business law matters, including mergers, acquisitions, equity and debt financings, public and private securities offerings, venture capital funding, private equity transactions, international transactions, and other general business law matters.
Brandon C. Janes has extensive experience in corporate governance, capital transactions, and mergers and acquisitions. He has represented investors and corporate clients in private equity and debt offerings, including the offerings of high yield debt securities and convertible and other hybrid securities. In addition to being Board Certified in Tax Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Brandon is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Alexine Zacarias Friedman represents clients in a variety of corporate matters ranging from entity formation to multi-million dollar acquisition transactions. Alexine has experience working with various mergers and acquisitions, and enjoys working with clients from a variety of backgrounds and areas of business, including energy, healthcare, food and beverage, and manufacturing.
Since Jackson Walker’s founding in 1887, our attorneys have represented some of the most influential companies and business leaders in the world. Today, we remain firmly rooted in Texas while serving clients around the globe. With more than 350 attorneys across seven offices, we are the fourth-largest firm in the state and have been recognized by Law360 as a “Texas Powerhouse” and an “elite law firm” that regularly provides counsel to industry-leading clients on highly complex transactions ranging from millions to billions. To explore our experience handling transactions for family-owned businesses, visit our Corporate & Securities practice page.