Burger King in franchise deal for Central America

Burger King strikes joint venture agreement to expand in Central America

MIAMI (AP) -- Burger King Worldwide Inc. said Thursday that it has struck a joint-venture agreement with long-time franchisee Beboca Ltd. to help expand the fast-food chain in Central America.

The two companies will establish a new entity named BK Centro America. The venture will acquire the master franchise rights for the 178 restaurants in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama and will develop the brand in these countries.

Burger King, based in Miami, is the second-largest fast food hamburger chain in the world. Beboca currently owns and operates 48 restaurants in Costa Rica and Panama.

The companies said the deal will help them grow to meet the demand from a rapidly expanding middle class in these markets.

Jose Tomas, president of Burger King's Latin America and the Caribbean business, will join the board of the joint venture, as will Jonathan Weisleder, its finance and business development director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Burger King is increasingly looking to joint ventures to grow overseas. It has introduced joint ventures in South Africa, Russia and China in 2012 and launched one in Brazil in 2011.

The Miami-based chain operates more than 12,600 worldwide.

Shares of Burger King gained 5 cents to close at $16.53 and then fell 14 cents in after-hours trading.