December 17, 2018 / 12:50 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Burger chain Jack in the Box exploring options, including a sale

(Adds details on options, background)

Dec 17 (Reuters) - Burger chain Jack in the Box Inc said on Monday it is exploring options, including a sale of the company, and has held talks with potential buyers.

The company's shares rose nearly 4 percent in light premarket trading, giving it a market capitalization of $2.15 billion.

Jack in the Box, which operates more than 2,200 restaurants, has been grappling with decreased consumer demand for fast food, as well as with higher wages for its workers.

The company's annual sales have declined since 2016 and it beat revenue estimates in its two most recent earnings quarters, following a string of misses.

A deal could be the latest in the U.S. restaurant sector. Fast-food chain Bojangles Inc last month agreed to be taken private for nearly $600 million and earlier this year drive-in burger chain Sonic was acquired by Arby's owner Inspire Brands for about $1.57 billion.

Reuters reported last month Jack in the Box had been in talks with potential buyers including private equity firms, citing sources.

Jack in the Box sold its Qdoba Restaurant Corp unit, which operates and franchises more than 700 Qdoba Mexican Eats restaurants, to private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC earlier this year.

The burger chain said on Monday it had not set a timetable to conclude the process and would go ahead with plans to have a new capital structure, if unable to complete a transaction. (Reporting by Soundarya J in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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