Shareholders approve BurgerFi-Opes deal

The better-burger concept becomes a publicly traded company, with cash for expansion.
Burger Fi
Photograph: Shutterstock

Opes Acquisition Corp. shareholders on Tuesday approved the purchase of BurgerFi for $100 million in cash and stock, sealing a deal that was first announced in June and making the better-burger brand a publicly traded company.

The new company, renamed BurgerFi International, Inc., will trade on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol BFI. BurgerFi will ring Nasdaq’s opening bell Thursday.

Nearly 100% of Opes’ stockholders approved the deal, the company said.

“We believe that BurgerFi has a unique value proposition with ample room for growth that will prove to be an attractive public company and provide tremendous stockholder value going forward,” Opes Chairman and CEO Ophir Sternberg said in a statement.

Opes is a SPAC, a special purpose acquisition company, that uses money from investors to buy a private company, thus taking it public.

The reverse merger gives 125-unit BurgerFi $40 million in cash for expansion.

BurgerFi is planning an aggressive expansion strategy, which includes traditional units, ghost kitchens and drive-thrus. By the end of this year, the chain plans to have 10 new locations, plus 10 new ghost kitchens. Next year, BurgerFi is on track to open 30 new restaurants.

In October, BurgerFi announced the hiring of former Burger King executive Julio Ramirez as its CEO.

The chain is taking advantage of increasingly available restaurant real estate amid the pandemic.

“It was very hard to find prime real estate for a fast-casual brand,” BurgerFi President Charlie Guzzetta said during a recent Restaurant Recovery Summit webinar, run by Restaurant Business parent company, Winsight. “Now, in 2020, we’re seeing a complete reversal. We see rent prices and occupancy costs reducing and we see inventory growing.”

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