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    Burger King Parent Names New CEO, Shakes Up Leadership

  • Restaurant Brands International's former chief executive is shifting to a chairman role.

    flickr: Mike Mozart
    Burger King's leadership team is changing at the top.

    Restaurant Brands International, parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes, is shaking up its leadership to “strengthen the company's focus on accelerating its global growth,” the company announced on January 23.

    Daniel Schwartz, RBI’s CFO and CEO for the past eight years, was promoted to executive chairman and co-chairman of the company’s board of directors. Jose Cil, following 18 years with Burger King, is stepping into the CEO role. The moves are effective immediately. Schwartz will work closely with Cil over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition, RBI said, and neither Schwartz nor the partners at 3G Capital intend to sell shares in the company, “reflecting their continued optimism of the long-term outlook for the business,” RBI said.

    Cil has served as president of Burger King since 2014. RBI said “accelerating the global growth of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes” will be a top priority for Cil in the new position, in addition to “delivering an exceptional guest experience, increasing franchisee profitability, and building the power of our restaurant brands with our guests.”

    Schwartz, with the move, will also take a more active role as a partner at 3G Capital, RBI said. However, he will “remain deeply involved in the RBI business and will continue to focus on talent acquisition, capital allocation, and major strategic initiatives.”

    “I am very proud of the talented team that we have built at RBI," Schwartz said in a statement. "This is a natural transition of roles for all of us, and reflects how we were already beginning to operate the business day-to-day. I have great optimism for what I believe our team will achieve, and we are looking forward to sharing further details with the investment community later this year."

    3G Capital paid $1.56 billion in cash to take control of Burger King in 2010, financing the company’s remaining price tag with debt. The chain’s EBITDA minus capital expenditures ballooned nearly 60 percent in the first year under 3G control. The Brazilian private-equity firm returned Burger King to public markets in 2012 by selling 29 percent of the company to a public investment vehicle created by Bill Ackman, former Jarden CEO Martin Franklin, and billionaire Nicolas Berggruen for $1.4 billion.

    The company was renamed RBI two years later when Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway was brought into the fold following an $11 billion takeover of Tim Hortons. The company provided $3 billion in preferred equity financing to fund the acquisition and was offered 8.4 million shares for a price of 1 cent a piece. The $1.8 billion deal for Popeyes was announced in February 2017.

    “I'm excited by the challenge of this new role and I'm thankful to Daniel and my other partners for the vote of confidence to lead RBI on our next journey of growth," added Cil. "We have three amazing brands, a talented team with an ownership mindset, and passionate, dedicated franchisees that I believe will help us accelerate our long-term growth around the world. Profitable owners and happy guests are the bedrock of our business and I look forward to continuing to grow franchisee profitability and provide our guests an exceptional brand experience when they visit our restaurants.”

    In addition to the other top-level changes, RBI promoted Josh Kobza to COO where he will oversee the global development, technology, and operational teams responsible for supporting the growth of RBI’s brands.

    Kobza held the CFO role from 2013–2017 and was named chief technology and development officer in 2018 as part of a new digital push for RBI. “As the head of global development, he has set up many of the international franchise partnerships that have supported the company's growth in recent years and he was also responsible for leading the acquisitions of Tim Hortons in 2014 and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in 2017,” RBI said. “In his new role, Josh will continue to oversee the establishment of new international franchise partnerships as well as the implementation of the company's technology initiatives, and will now also ensure that RBI's various operational teams best support the global growth of the company's three brands.”

    “I am proud to have been involved in the creation of what RBI is today, and I share the team's enthusiasm for what the future holds for the business," Kobza said. "I look forward to supporting the growth of our three strong brands, including by attracting and retaining top talent, ensuring excellence in our supply chain and business services, establishing new franchise partnerships with best-in-class operators, and driving the evolution of our digital and technology agenda."

    RBI also announced pre-released financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018. Same-store sales lifted 1.9 percent at Tim Hortons, 1.7 percent at Burger King, and 0.1 percent at Popeyes. The chains experienced 2.1 percent, 6.1 percent, and 7.3 percent net restaurant growth, year-over-year, respectively, as well. There were 4,846 Tim Hortons, 17,796 Burger Kings, and 3,102 Popeyes as of December 31.

    That’s up from 4,748, 16,767, and 2,892, respectively, in the prior-year period.

    By biggest market, Burger King’s U.S. comps increased 0.8 percent. Tim Hortons lifted 2.2 percent in Canada. Popeyes’ same-store sales fell 0.1 percent in the U.S.