Panera to acquire Au Bon Pain

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ST. LOUIS — Panera Bread, which has an eatery in Pittsfield, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc., the parent company of Boston-based Au Bon Pain.

The bakery-cafe chain has 304 units worldwide and will be part of Panera's initiative to intensify growth in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations, among others.Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close during the fourth quarter, were not disclosed.

The acquisition will bring Au Bon Pain and Panera together again. Ron Shaich, Panera's founder, chairman and CEO, and his late partner Louis Kane created Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. in 1981.

The company went public in 1991 and acquired Saint Louis Bread Company in 1993. Saint Louis Bread was renamed Panera and, in 1999, Au Bon Pain was sold so that all human and capital resources available at that time could be focused on Panera.

Shaich announced on Wednesday that he will step down as CEO effective Jan. 1, allowing him to better allocate his time between Panera; initiatives for JAB, which acquired Panera in July; and his personal investments and interests.Blaine Hurst, Panera's president and company veteran who has led many of the company's most significant innovations over the last half-decade, will assume the position of CEO.


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