Jollibee acquires US chain Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Filipino fast-food Jollibee is on its way to world domination.

The restaurant famous for its perpetually happy red bee mascot informed the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) today that its parent company Jollibee Food Corporation (JFC) will acquire The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL), an American chain of cafes, for US$100 million.

The deal will be made through JFC’s Singapore subsidiary, Jollibee Worldwide Pte. Ltd. (JWPL), reported CNN Philippines. 

The purchase price includes an additional US$250 million, which will come in the form of investments in its Singapore subsidiary, according to Reuters.

CBTL, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, has 1,189 outlets across 27 countries including the Philippines. Upon acquisition, it will become the second-biggest business within JFC, after its flagship brand Jollibee.

JFC chairman Tony Tan Caktiong said in a statement sent to the PSE that the CBTL acquisition “will bring JFC closer to its vision to be one of the top five restaurant companies in the world in terms of market capitalization,” according to The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Our priority is to accelerate the growth of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf brand particularly in Asia, by strengthening its brand development, marketing, and franchise support system.”

In December, JFC announced that it acquired the American food brand Tortas Frontera, a Mexican fast-food restaurant, reported ABS-CBN News. It was also in May last year when it became the Asia Pacific master franchise holder of the Chinese dim sum restaurant chain Tim Ho Wan.

Jollibee is much celebrated in the Philippines and many see it as a source of national pride because it’s one of the few local businesses to make it big overseas.

However, critics have also lambasted it for hiring employees on a contractual basis, which means many of them don’t receive the proper benefits. A study done by the government in May 2018 showed that the fast-food giant was the local company with the most contractual employees. This led some consumers to call for a Jollibee boycott the following month.

“Contractualization” is common practice in the country and many activists have called for its removal. In May 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order prohibiting some forms of it but labor groups called this useless because it does not ban all forms of contractualization.

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