Tim Hortons owner plans to buy Chinese health food restaurant chain Wagas

Oakville-based Restaurant Brands International, owner of Tim Hortons and Burger King, is among three fast food giants considering bidding on Chinese health food and bakery chain Wagas, according to people familiar with the matter.

Yum China Holdings Inc. and Jollibee Foods Corp. also kick the tires, as well as interest from private equity firms, the sources said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public.

The owners of the company, whose sales are expected to reach nearly 1.2 billion yuan ($ 188 million) this year, seek a valuation of $ 800 to $ 1 billion or more, based on previous transactions in the industry as well as initial interests, the people said.

A buyer for the company could emerge as early as this year, with the goal of closing the deal next year, the people said. Reflections are still ongoing and no final decisions have been made, the people said.

Jollibee, Yum China and Wagas declined to comment, while representatives for Toronto-based Restaurants Brands did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jollibee shares rose 3.8% in Manila, the biggest intraday gain in about two weeks.

Founded in 1999 as a cafe in Shanghai, Wagas has since expanded throughout China, with more than 160 stores, according to its website. It sells light meals, including potent salads, pastas, sandwiches, juices, and coffee.

Bloomberg reported last month that Wagas was considering a sale amid initial interest from potential investors.

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