Jimmy John’s said to be planning IPO

Jimmy John's Franchise LLC is preparing for an initial public offering that could value the popular U.S. gourmet sandwich chain at more than $2 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Jimmy John's, which is owned by founder Jimmy John Liautaud as well as private equity firm Weston Presidio, is interviewing investment banks to serve as underwriters for an IPO that could come later this year, three people said.

Jimmy John's has annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of roughly $150 million, the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Representatives of Jimmy John's and Weston Presidio did not respond to requests for comment.

Restaurant chains such as Jimmy John's are keen to tap the public markets to replicate the success of Shake Shack Inc (SHAK.N), which has seen shares more than quadruple since the burger chain's IPO in January. Shares of Shake Shack, which went public at $21, closed Tuesday at $85.76.

Champaign, Illinois-based company Jimmy John's, founded in 1983 by Liautaud in a converted garage, had explored an outright sale of major stake late last year, Reuters reported at the time. [IDnL1N0RD0KR]

Jimmy John's has around 2,000 locations, most of which are franchised.

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