Darby Private Equity provides financing as EQT buys Chinese food franchiser F&B


Emerging markets-focused Darby Private Equity has provided financing to an EQT-led consortium that acquired a majority stake in franchise operator China F&B Group.

The investment saw board members and management invest together with the Nordic buyout firm, alongside founder Li Ping, who continues to own shares in the company and act as chairman.

China F&B Group is the franchise operator of two international restaurant chains – China Dairy Queen, the largest ice cream restaurant chain in China; and Papa John’s Pizza, the second largest pizza restaurant chain in China. Founded in 2003, China F&B Group is the largest franchisee of both Dairy Queen and Papa John’s Pizza outside the US, with over 500 restaurants in China. China F&B Group has around 7,000 employees.

The financing was provided via the firm’s Darby Asia Opportunities Fund III.

David Hudson, senior managing director, Darby Asia, said, “China F&B Group is well positioned to take advantage of the accelerating urbanisation trends in China. We are attracted to China F&B Group because of its market leadership position, renowned business franchise and growth potential.”

Darby Private Equity is the private equity arm of Franklin Templeton Investments. It was founded in 1994 by former US Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady. Most recently the firm invested in Latin American commercial finance company Acrecent Financial Corporation.

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