MINNEAPOLIS -- German private investment firm Joh. A. Bensiker has agreed to buy Caribou Coffee, the No. 2 coffeehouse chain in the United States behind Starbucks, for $340 million. The chain has more than 600 coffeehouses in 22 states mostly in the eastern and Midwest regions, and 10 international markets, compared with Starbucks' 11,000 stores.
Caribou, which formed in 1992 and went public in 2005, will continue operating as an independent company and keep its headquarters in Minnesota.
The deal comes less than two months after Bensiker, a holding company for Germany's Reimann family, bought Peet's Coffee & Tea for $1 billion and raised its stake in D.E. Master Blenders 1753, the coffee arm of the former Sara Lee, to 15% from about 12%.
Bensiker's holdings already include fragrance company Coty and luxury brands Bally and Jimmy Choo. It is run by three consumer products veterans with ties to giants such as candy giant Mars and Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Benckiser agreed to pay $16 a share, which represents a roughly 30% premium to Caribou's closing price on Dec. 14, when it struck the deal.
Caribou's stock has struggled to recover since May, when it plunged 38% over a few weeks to roughly $10 a share from more than $16. The decline came after Caribou lowered its 2012 forecast.
The coffee chain sells its coffee in K-Cups for Green Mountain Coffee Co.'s Keurig single-cup brewers and in bags at U.S. supermarkets and warehouse clubs, competing against brands like JM Smucker Co.'s Folgers and Kraft Food Group's Maxwell House.
Industry analysts say the group is vying to become a powerhouse in the global coffee business and could look to merge with D.E. Master Blenders or Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.