Whataburger Founding Family Sells Majority Share of Texas Chain

Whataburger, the popular burger chain with a 69-year legacy in Texas, has sold a majority interest in the company to Chicago-based investment banking firm BDT Capital.

The Dobson family, who founded the company, will remain minority stakeholders and Whataburger headquarters will stay in San Antonio.

"BDT and the Whataburger team will begin exploring expansion plans – while staying true to the brand it has been over the past 69 years," Whataburger said in a statement on Friday.

The company was founded by Harmon Dobson in 1950 and later inherited by his children—Tom, Hugh and Lynne.

Tom Dobson has served as board chairman, while his siblings sat on the Whataburger board, according to Forbes.

The Whataburger company, which was born from a single burger stand, has built and managed over 800 locations in 10 states. Annual sales are estimated to be approximately $2 billion.

BDT, on the other hand, is a merchant bank that had more than $12 billion in assets under management, according to Business Insider. It invests in family-owned companies worldwide.

In May, Reuters reported that Whataburger had hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to help explore the possibility of a sale.

The company's sale was driven by Whataburger's desire to expand its brand and introduce its restaurants to a new customer base, the company said. BDT will provide the funding needed to grow Whataburger's operations.

"This is both exciting and bittersweet for the Dobson family. Whataburger has been the heart and soul of our family legacy for nearly 70 years, but we feel really good about the partnership with BDT," said Tom Dobson. "They have a track record of success with businesses as special as ours that want to grow, while preserving culture and family history. They are trusted advisors and partners who have worked closely with other family businesses and they have a tremendous reputation for doing the right thing."

While terms of the deal weren't disclosed in the company's press release, the transaction is expected later this summer.

President and CEO Preston Atkinson and chairman Tom Dobson will step down from their positions to work with Las Aguilas, an investment company focused on philanthropy and real estate. Las Aguilas was established by the Dobson family in 2011.

Atkinson and Dobson will remain on the company's board of directors "to provide ongoing guidance and ensure a smooth transition," according to the release.

The Texas-based chain, established in 1950, now serves customers at more than 800 locations in 10 states. Whataburger