Halifax Group Invests in Major Papa John's Franchisee

The Halifax Group of Washington led a management buyout of P.J. United, the largest franchisee of Papa John's pizza chain, the private equity firm announced Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Halifax's deals are usually around $100 million.

Halifax, P.J. United founder Douglas S. Stephens and his top managers bought out shareholders in the company, which operates 116 Papa John's pizza stores in six states, including Virginia, Ohio, Utah, Texas, Alabama and Louisiana, according to the company. The current management team at P.J. United will stay on.

"We saw this as a great opportunity to partner with a strong, deep and proven managment team with what we consider the leading brand in the pizza sector," said Halifax managing director Ken Doyle.

Launched in 1999, the Halifax Group invests in with middle-market companies in the healthcare services, wellness, infrastructure and business services sectors. One of the firm's co-founders was David Bonderman, who also founded Texas-based TPG, a major private equity firm.

Doyle said Halifax will be in the market to add existing Papa John's franchises to P.J. United's portfolio. "Our goal is to grow the company through a combination of continued strong core growth, new locations and strategic acquisitions," he said.

Papa John's, a publicly traded company based in Louisville, Ky., is the third biggest carryout and pizza delivery chain in the United States, behind Pizza Hut and Domino's. Papa John's has nearly 3,000 locations worldwide, including 2,100 in the U.S. and 50 in China. The company markets itself as using top quality ingredients and providing sauce cups with each delivery, allowing customers to dip their pizza slices.

P.J. United was founded in 1991, and is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.

-- Thomas Heath

By Mike Shepard  |  November 13, 2007; 2:31 PM ET  | Category:  Private Equity
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