A Papa John’s store in Durham, N.C. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Papa John’s stock jumped more than 6 percent Wednesday morning following a report from DealReporter, a global news site focused on mergers, acquisitions and capital markets.

According to the business site Seeking Alpha, DealReporter suggested in a speculative report that Restaurants Brands International, which owns Burger King, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen and Tim Hortons, may be interested in bidding on Papa John’s and could partner with the Louisville pizza chain’s founder John Schnatter and global investment firm 3G Capital on a buyout. In the past, 3G Capital has partnered on restaurant deals with Restaurants Brands International, which notably named new CEO and chief operating officer Wednesday.

As of about 11:30 a.m., Papa John’s stock price was $44.28, up 6.3 percent.

Insider has reached out to the company. A media relations representative for Schnatter declined to comment.

Papa John’s leadership indicated that it was open to being purchased or bringing on an investment partner after hiring Bank of America and Lazard to explore options related to the company’s future.

Schnatter, who was ousted following use of a racial slur and is in a legal battle with the business he founded, hired a financial adviser in December to explore his own future related to the company, which he owns about a 30 percent stake in still.

Analysts have said that it could be difficult for Papa John’s to find a buyer given the negative press and Schnatter’s continued assertions that he was unfairly pushed out. Before the controversy with Schnatter, Papa John’s stock price was around $80, according to Seeking Alpha.

In other Papa John’s news, the company announced Wednesday morning that it has hired its first chief people officer, Marvin Boakye.

Boakye has 20-plus years of human resources experience, including culture transformation and change management. He previously served as vice president of human resources at the petroleum company Andeavor, which Marathon Petroleum recently bought.

“Boakye’s expertise will help us to continue to push Papa John’s forward in our transformation to become a better place to work for our 120,000 corporate and franchise team members,” President and CEO Steve Ritchie said in a news release.

As chief people officer, he will implement the company’s talent management strategy and oversee employee operations, compensation and benefits, and learning and development. The new title replaces the chain’s senior vice president of people operations position, which was held by Bob Smith until he retired last August.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]