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Burger King returns to public trading

The New York Stock Exchange is once again the home of the Whopper.

Burger King Worldwide Inc. began trading as a public company Wednesday under the ticker symbol "BKW." Its shares closed up 3.5 percent at $15.01.

The world's No. 2 hamburger chain had last traded as a public company between 2006 and 2010 before it was purchased and taken private by investment firm 3G Capital.

Burger King's return to the Big Board wasn't through an initial public offering, however. 3G Capital announced an unusual deal in April to sell a minority stake to Justice Holdings Ltd., a London-based entity that was specifically set up to invest in another company. 3G Capital received $1.4 billion in exchange and retains a 71 percent stake in the company.

That stake was worth about $3.6 billion based on Burger King's opening share price, meaning that, on paper, 3G Capital has more than earned back the $3.26 billion it paid for Burger King in 2010.

Under the complex deal, Justice suspended trading on the London Stock Exchange once the transaction was complete and emerged as Burger King Worldwide on the New York Stock Exchange.

Only 16 percent of shares were available for sale to investors. The founders of Justice Holdings will hold onto their 13 percent of shares for at least one year as part of the deal. 3G Capital will hold onto its stake for at least six months.

Among Justice's founders are William Ackman, an activist investor and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, and Martin Franklin, founder and executive chairman of consumer products company Jarden Corp..

Burger King has more than 12,500 restaurants worldwide, compared with 33,000 for McDonald's Corp.

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