CKE Restaurants Inc. announced Saturday that it was acquired by Columbia Lake Acquisition Holdings Inc., an affiliate of Apollo Management LP, two months after announcing it would be acquired by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners.

CKE is the parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s quick-service brands.

“This is a very exciting and positive development for the company [and] its shareholders, franchisees, and employees,” said Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE, in a statement released by the company.

“The Apollo transaction provides substantial added value for our shareholders and is a testament to our board’s diligent efforts on behalf of our shareholders.”

The CKE board of directors voted unanimously to approve the merger agreement.

According to the company’s release, Apollo’s acquisition of CKE will cost around $1 billion. Nearly $700 million of the price tag represents the $12.55 cash per share each shareholder will receive.

The rest of the transaction cost represents the refinancing of CKE’s debt.

“We believe this is an opportunity to partner with a premier private equity firm that has a proven record for fostering operational excellence, supporting growth, and adding value in its portfolio companies,” Puzder said in the release. “We view this as an exceptionally positive transaction on all fronts.”

On February 26, CKE announced that it would be acquired by Thomas H. Lee Partners, a private equity firm whose portfolio includes Aramark and Dunkin’ Brands.

The acquisition of CKE by Thomas H. Lee Partners was to cost the firm about $928 million, including $11.05 cash per share for each shareholder. However, as part of the merger agreement with Thomas H. Lee Partners, CKE was given the right to seek superior proposals for 40 days.

The merger with Apollo will make CKE a private company, wholly owned by Apollo’s affiliate. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2011.

By Sam Oches

Burgers, Finance, News, Carl's Jr., CKE, Hardee's