The relatives of Subway’s founders are in line for billions of dollars after the sandwich chain was sold for a reported $9.6bn (£7.6bn).
Subway announced on Thursday it had been bought by private equity firm Roark Capital Group, taking the fast-food chain out of family ownership for the first time in six decades.
The deal is expected to deliver a windfall to the relatives of the company’s two late founders, Fred DeLuca and Peter Buck.
Subway was founded in 1965 when 17-year-old DeLuca received a $1,000 loan from family friend Buck, a nuclear physicist 20 years his senior.
He used the cash to open his first sandwich shop, then called Pete’s Super Submarines.
Under DeLuca’s leadership, Subway overtook McDonald’s as the largest restaurant chain and now has about 37,000 franchise-run restaurants in more than 100 countries, including 2,100 in the UK.
The duo boasted shared 50-50 ownership of Subway’s parent company, Doctor’s Associates, which takes as much 12pc in combined royalty and advertising fees from franchise owners, Forbes reported.
Following Buck’s death in November 2021, his 50pc share of Subway was donated to his private family charity, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation.
Carrie Schindele, executive director of the foundation, said at the time: “This gift will allow the Foundation to greatly expand its philanthropic endeavours and impact many more lives, especially our work to create educational opportunities for all students, work Dr Buck cared so deeply about.”
The non-profit, founded by Dr Buck and his late wife Carmen Lucia in 1999, is run by sons Christopher and William, plus grandson Samuel, nephew Michael and sister-in-law Vera Lourenco.
The other half of Subway belonging to Mr DeLuca, who died in 2015, is now reportedly wholly owned by his widow, Elisabeth.
Following Mr DeLuca’s death, his younger sister Suzanne Greco took over as chief executive. However, she stepped down three years later after a series of restaurant closures.
Subway’s current boss, John Chidsey, in 2019 became the company’s first chief executive from outside the family.
Commenting on the sale, Mr Chidsey said: “Subway has a bright future with Roark, and we are committed to continuing to focus on a win-win-win approach for our franchisees, our guests and our employees.”