Arby's owner Inspire Brands is buying the Sonic drive-in hamburger chain, which has about $4.4 billion in sales.
Photo: AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File
Photo: AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

Atlanta’s Inspire Brands buys Sonic 

Atlanta-based Inspire Brands is buying Sonic in a $2.3 billion deal that will dramatically boost its size and reach, the companies announced Tuesday morning.

 Sonic, which operates a chain of 3,500 restaurants with hundreds of franchisees, has about $4.4 billion in revenues – more than half the 7.6 billion in sales racked up by Inspire.

In a statement, Inspire officials called Sonic “an ideal fit for Inspire’s multi-brand portfolio.”

They praised Sonic for its “unique brand positioning,” as well as its innovation – especially in its use of digital technologies – and its solid financial performance.

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 Inspire, which is one of the 10 largest restaurant companies in the United States, has branches in 16 countries. 

The company is majority-owned by Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group, which owns companies and franchises that generate $32 billion in revenues, according to the firm’s web site. Roark’s holdings include CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s, the Corner Bakery, and FOCUS Brands, whose holdings include Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon and Schlotzsky’s.

Inspire was formed early this year as the umbrella corporate management of several chains, the largest of which is Arby’s, with 3,400 restaurants, and Buffalo Wild Wings, which includes 1,250 restaurants. It also owns Rusty Tacos, which owns 25 restaurants.

The company has more than 150,000 employees. 

The transaction is a stock deal based on a 19 percent premium to the closing price of Sonic stock on Monday, officials said. Inspire will pay $43.50 a share for the company.

 Sonic is based in Oklahoma City and will continue to operate from there as a business unit of Inspire, officials said. Sonic, which calls itself “America’s Drive In,” is a 65-year-old chain.

Inspire has about $7.6 billion in sales, while Sonic has about $4.4 billion in revenues, according to the companies.

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