Updated 1:15 p.m. A Horry County judge approved the sale of Hooters at a hearing this morning, but a legal battle is brewing between two companies seeking to buy the restaurant chain.
Chanticleer Investors LLC is trying to exercise a right in a previous loan agreement to block the sale of Hooters of America, Inc. to Wellspring Capital Management.
Wellspring, a New York-based private equity firm, had previously participated in a yearlong bidding process and was selected as the best company to buy Hooters. The purchase agreement, including how much Wellspring would pay for Hooters, has been sealed by the courts.
The hearing is the latest legal step toward settling the estate of the late Robert "Bob" Brooks, a Loris native who bought Hooters in 1986 and oversaw an expansion that made the chain a globally recognized brand. Brooks died of natural causes in 2006 in his Myrtle Beach home.
The Brooks family is seeking to sell Hooters as part of settling Brooks' estate. The estate's five executors oversaw the search for a buyer and ultimately chose Wellspring.
Representatives for Chanticleer attended the hearing this morning. The group wishes to exercise a right of first refusal that would block the sale to Wellspring and allow Chanticleer to buy the restaurant chain itself.
Mike Pruitt, chief executive of Chanticleer, was present at the hearing but declined to comment. Chanticleer sent in a request to exercise its right around midnight last night, lawyers said.
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