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Papa John's stock soars after takeover rumors

Posted at 11:09 AM, Oct 09, 2018

(CNN) -- Controversy, shmontroversy. Investors love Papa John's stock again -- because it might get taken private.

Shares of the beleaguered pizza chain rose 8% Tuesday morning after the Wall Street Journal reported that Trian Fund Management is considering a bid. The activist hedge fund has a taste for fast food: It owns 13% of Wendy's (WEN).

Trian contacted Papa John's to collect information for a possible bid, according to the Journal. The newspaper cautioned that there's "no guarantee" that Papa John's will be sold or if Trian will even make an offer.

Trian and Papa John's didn't immediately reply for comment.

Papa John's (PZZA) stock has fallen 3% this year. Sales declined after its founder, John Schnatter, admitted to using the N-word on a conference call. He apologized and resigned as Papa John's chairman in July.

The company and Schnatter, who remains on the board and owns nearly 30% of the company's shares, have been engaged in a public feud. Schnatter had held takeover talks with Wendy's before his ouster, according to the Journal.

Schnatter is suing Papa John's and has accused the current leadership of allowing his comments to be misrepresented in the media. He has called CEO Steve Ritchie the wrong man for the job, and said that he has helped create a toxic culture rife with harassment and intimidation.

In response, Papa John's board accused him of "promoting his self-interest at the expense of all others in an attempt to regain control." Schnatter has said he regrets resigning as chairman, but that he doesn't want to regain his role as CEO.

Papa John's recently rolled out a new ad campaign that further distances itself from Schnatter.

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