Burger King puts itself on the menu — for $4 billion

Burger King's agreement to be acquired by private investment firm 3G Capital in a $4 billion deal could help the chain gain ground in the burger wars.

The new owners have pledged to keep the fast-food chain in Miami, which it has called home through five sets of owners since Burger King's founding in 1954. But it is too soon to tell if 3G Capital will stick with Burger King's current strategies or go with a Whopper-sized remake.

The deal comes as the world's second-largest hamburger chain has suffered amid an economic downturn that has seen its core young male consumers hit harder than most by rising unemployment. By comparison, McDonald's appeals to a wider variety of consumers, attracting more moms and kids.

The contrast shows in the companies' financial reports.

In the most recent quarter, Burger King said last week that profit fell 17 percent and revenue declined 1 percent. By comparison, McDonald's revenue rose 5 percent and profits increased 12 percent.

By removing Burger King from the scrutiny of the public markets, analysts say the chain will be able to focus on remodeling restaurants, repairing lawsuit-fractured franchisee relations and differentiating itself from McDonald's.

"The benefit of being private is you can do things at your own pace," Chairman and Chief Executive John Chidsey said during an interview Thursday. "You can make long-term decisions and not worry about short-term numbers."

Burger King's restaurants are viewed by many as old and tired. As restaurants have been revamped, they've seen a spike in sales but it's a slow process to create a new image for a company with more than 12,000 restaurants.

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