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Dunkin' Donuts in talks to be bought by Arby's owner

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The owner of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins is in talks to be acquired in a potential multibillion dollar deal with restaurant operator Inspire Brands.

The transaction would expand Inspire's growing empire of fast-food outlets and help it compete in the breakfast category, which was the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant industry before the pandemic hit. 

The company, owned by private equity firm Roark Capital, already owns Arby's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John's and Sonic. Roark also backs Focus Brands — the owner of Auntie Anne's Pretzels and Cinnabon — and CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's burger chains.

Shares of Dunkin' Brands, which has about 13,000 donut shops and 8,000 Baskin-Robbins ice cream store locations around the U.S., jumped 16% early Monday to an all-time high of $104.87 on news of the deal, which was first reported by the New York Times. 

Dunkin' Brands confirmed the possible deal on Sunday, while noting in a statement that an agreement has not yet been reached and that talks could still fall apart. 

The company, which is valued by investors at nearly $9 billion, has seen its financial results slide this year as COVID-19 shuttered restaurants around the U.S. For its fiscal year ending in June, revenue at Dunkin' Brands fell to $1.3 billion, sinking 20% in the second quarter and down 3.4% from a year ago. Still, the chain has remained profitable, with annual net income of $219 million.

Dunkin' was founded in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts. Baskin-Robbins — known for its promise of 31 flavors — was founded in 1945 in Glendale, California. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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