By Siddharth Cavale
(Reuters) - Arby's owner Roark Capital Group said on Tuesday it would buy Buffalo Wild Wings Inc <BWLD.O> for $2.4 billion, adding to its growing portfolio of U.S. restaurants after a bruising proxy fight over the direction of the chicken wing chain.
Roark, which also owns bakery chain Cinnabon, said in a statement it would pay $157 per share for Buffalo Wild Wings, a premium of 7 percent over the stock's Monday close.
The chain will become a unit of Arby's but will continue to operate as an independent brand. Its shares <BWLD.O> rose 6.3 percent to $155.55 in midday trading on Tuesday.
The deal marks the end of a turbulent year for the chicken wing restaurant, which saw it concede three board seats to well-known hedge fund and activist investor Marcato Capital Management. The defeat also prompted Chief Executive Sally Smith to announce her retirement after two decades in charge.
Marcato, which owns a 6.4 percent stake in the wing chain, launched its campaign in July 2016, pressuring the board to pursue strategies that it believed would boost the company's stock price, which had lagged peers in the previous year.
Marcato, run by Mick McGuire, will vote in favor of the deal announced on Tuesday, Arby's and Buffalo Wild Wings said in a joint statement.
Roark's purchase, which including debt values Buffalo Wild Wings at about $2.9 billion, is the latest in a flurry of restaurant takeovers by private equity firms.
In October, casual dining chain Ruby Tuesday was bought by NRD Capital for about $335 million, while Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings took U.S. food chains Panera Bread and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts private over the last two years.
Roark has invested heavily in promoting Arby's, running a well-known "We got the meats" advertising campaign featuring Ving Rhames as it battles intense competition in the U.S. restaurant industry.
The private equity firm also owns stakes in burger chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr. It will provide all of the equity financing for the deal, expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.
Buffalo Wild Wings reported better-than-expected profit for the first time in a year in October, helped by cost-cutting and a change in its promotional strategy, to overcome a spike in chicken wing prices.
The results boosted its stock price by 20 percent but the shares overall this year have lagged peers such as Wingstop <WING.O>, which has risen 31 percent.
(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)