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Panera Brands, the casual dining group owned by investment group JAB, has filed confidential paperwork for an initial public offering in the US, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Missouri-based group is aiming to go public next year, in the latest sign that the market for new listings could regain momentum after a two-year slowdown.
JAB tried to sell the company to itself via a continuation fund earlier this year but could not garner support, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The European-based group eventually decided in mid-November to take Panera public, they added. Earlier in the month Panera announced plans to lay off 17 per cent of its 1,800 strong workforce, a move intended to streamline the business and boost its financial performance in preparation of an IPO, those people said.
JPMorgan Chase is lead underwriter. Panera, JPMorgan and JAB declined to comment.
Rising interest rates, falling valuations and the terrible performance of recently-listed companies’ shares have combined to cause a sharp slowdown in listings over the past two years. Companies have raised just $20bn in US IPOs so far this year, according to Dealogic, an improvement over a dismal 2022 but down almost 90 per cent compared with 2021.
A number of large listings in the autumn, led by chip designer Arm, had raised hopes that the market was beginning to normalise, but their poor post-listing performances led most bankers to push back hopes of a full revival until 2024.
However, a recent rally in stock markets and growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will soon start cutting rates have renewed confidence.
“Talk of interest rate cuts by the summer alongside a really good November rally in the market bode well for talking about IPOs,” said one listings specialist.
Fast-fashion group Shein also recently filed preliminary confidential IPO documents for what would likely be one of the largest US listings of the past decade. Several other companies including Reddit and StockX have resumed talks with potential IPO investors after previous plans were derailed by market volatility, according to market participants.
JAB took Panera private in a $7.5bn deal in 2017. The bakery chain agreed a deal to return to public markets in 2021 through a combination with a special purpose acquisition company set up by acclaimed restaurateur and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer, but scrapped those plans last year.
In addition to its eponymous Panera Bread chain, Panera Brands owns Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros Bagels. It overhauled its management team in recent months in preparation for a listing. Former Einstein Bagels chief executive José Alberto Dueñas took over as head of Panera Brands in May, and in August it appointed IPO veteran Paul Carbone as chief financial officer.
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