This announcement marks the first time that PRG has invested in a business not solely related to their Panda Express, Panda Inn, Hibachi-San or Panda Panda restaurants.
Under the new partnership, PRG is acquiring a 40 percent ownership stake in FoodBrand L.L.C., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mills Corp. (NYSE:MLS), one of the nation's leading shopping center developers. Mills Corp. will retain 60 percent ownership.
PRG and FoodBrand L.L.C. will partner on existing assets and future opportunities. In addition, PRG's Panda Express and Hibachi-San quick-service concept brands will have spots in future FoodBrand, L.L.C. ventures, which are expected to stretch beyond three current Mills projects to include those of other developers as well as venues such as airports and college campuses. PRG is scheduled to have Panda Express and Hibachi-San locations open next month at the new Discover Mills in suburban Atlanta.
"Our investment in the Mills Corporation's FoodBrand marks a milestone for our company as we believe that is the right business and the right time to diversify our company," said Andrew Cherng, founder and chairman of Panda Restaurant Group.
"The Mills Corporation's knowledge of retail and superior real estate venues, coupled with our company's expertise in development and multi-unit expansion, should provide an excellent foundation to help fuel FoodBrand's high-growth and master lease niche throughout the foodservice industry."
Through its "Master Lease Program," FoodBrand L.L.C. operates a portfolio of 20 leading restaurant franchises in shopping centers nationwide, managing all aspects of leasing and operations. As part of the partnership, FoodBrand L.L.C. will not be a franchisee of PRG. Privately held PRG, which owns and operates more than 425 restaurants in 34 states, Puerto Rico and Japan, will manage and operate all Panda Express and Hibachi-San restaurants under a sub lease in future FoodBrand L.L.C. projects.