The Many Owners of Burger King

This article was written by Phin Upham

Right around the time that the McDonald brothers were opening their flagship store in San Bernardino California, Keith J. Kramer and his wife’s uncle Matthew Burns began looking for an opportunity of their own. They started a small burger stand and called it “Insta-Burger King.”

The “Insta” part of their name came from the rights they acquired for equipment that they used. The “Insta-Broiler,” for example, was so good at grilling burgers that every Insta-Burger King was required to have one installed on the premisis.

The company experienced a decline in 1954, and was forced to sell to two franchise operators. James McLamore and David R. Edgerton changed the name to Burger King, and began the rapid expansion of the company. By the time it was sold to Pillsbury in 1967, it had more than 250 locations carrying its brand.

Burger King has tried restructuring its management in an effort to increase company revenue several times, especially throughout the 70s and 80s. At one point, the company poached Donald N. Smith from McDonalds. Smith made changes to the menu, and pushed for new store designs. Short term, Burger King did well. Long term, the company fell into a financial slump. It was acquired in 1989 by Grand Metropolitan, a British entertainment mogul. The brand fell into neglect and was sold off in 2002 to TPG capital. TPG created the BK Whopper Bar, which gave the company new legs for the second time.

Burger King was sold off again during the financial crisis of 2007. It is now owned by Brazillian firm 3G Capital, which is expected to invest heavily in the company’s brand image.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website