The company that owns Burger King added to its fast-food empire, announcing Tuesday that it had reached a deal to acquire chicken chain Popeyes for $1.8 billion.
Restaurant Brands International, which owns Burger King and coffee-shop chain Tim Hortons, said it had agreed to purchase the rapidly growing company formally known as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for $79 per share.
Popeyes has more than 2,600 locations, about double what it had in 2008, and about 97% are franchises.
Restaurant Brands said it would seek to "continue developing the brand at an increasing pace" in the U.S. and foreign markets.
Now based in Atlanta, the 45-year-old chain was founded by entrepreneur Al Copeland in New Orleans. The company is known for its Southern-inspired menu, featuring fried chicken and seafood.
The brand "will be managed independently," Restaurant Brands CEO Daniel Schwartz said in a conference call, without taking questions.
"The key to long-term success at Popeyes will be a focus on guest satisfaction and franchise profitability," Schwartz said. "The team has done a great job setting the foundation for future growth."
It was not immediately clear whether Restaurant Brands plans to close any locations or cut any jobs. The company did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Popeyes shares jumped 19% in pre-market trading to $78.69. The deal reflects a 27% premium on the 30-day average of the company's share price.
The deal comes amid slowing sales growth for Popeyes after several years of expansion.
Sales at Popeyes stores open at least a year rose 1.7% for the fiscal year ended Dec. 25, according to an estimate released in January. That came after same-store sales growth of 5.9% in 2015.
The average Popeyes location has $1.4 million in annual revenue, Schwartz said. Franchisee profitability averaged $340,000 per location in 2015, according to a public filing, up from $188,000 in 2008.
The company opened 216 net new stores in 2016 after opening 219 in 2015.