Elizabeth Warren applauds FTC’s ‘sandwich shop monopoly’ probe of Subway acquisition

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Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took to X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday to applaud a federal antitrust probe focused on the potential acquisition of sandwich giant Subway.

Subway announced in late August that it reached an agreement to sell the family-owned sandwich chain to private equity firm Roark Capital in a deal reportedly worth more than $9 billion. The firm owns sandwich shops such as Jimmy John’s, Arby’s, McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzky’s. 

The private equity firm’s holdings prompted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch a probe earlier this month to examine whether the deal gives the company a monopoly over sandwich shops and other brands in the fast-food industry, according to a report by Politico.

“We don’t need another private equity deal that could lead to higher food prices for consumers,” Warren wrote on X. “The FTC is right to investigate whether the purchase of Subway by the same firm that owns Jimmy John’s and McAlister’s Deli creates a sandwich shop monopoly.”

SUBWAY JOINS DUNKIN, JIMMY JOHN’S, BUFFALO WILD WINGS IN ROARK CAPITAL’S STABLE

Warren is one of the leading antitrust hawks in the Senate and has regularly called for FTC probes of high-profile mergers and acquisitions, such as its ongoing investigation of the merger between Albertsons and Kroger. 

Under FTC Chair Lina Khan, the antitrust regulator has not successfully blocked any proposed mergers in court. The agency’s attempt to stop Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision was initially rebuffed by the courts and is currently under appeal.

Politico reported that mergers valued at over $111 million typically undergo a 30-day review by the FTC or the Department of Justice – although such probes may run longer at regulators’ discretion – and that Subway and Roark unsuccessfully attempted to shorten the probe by tacking on an extra 30 days to that initial review period, citing a source familiar with the matter.

SUBWAY AGREES TO SALE TO ROARK CAPITAL, ENDING NEARLY 6 DECADES OF FAMILY OWNERSHIP

Subway sign

The New York Post noted that a Subway franchise agreement from 2021 defined its competitors as being quick-service restaurants within three miles of a Subway location that derive “more 20% of its total gross revenue from the sale of any type of sandwiches on any type of bread, including but not limited to sub rolls and other bread rolls, sliced bread, pita bread, flat bread, and wraps.”

The franchise agreement explicitly named Jimmy John’s, McAlister’s Deli, and Scholtzky’s as competitors in the sandwich market, the Post reported. That could serve as an area of emphasis for the FTC’s challenge to Subway’s pending sale.

Roark Capital’s portfolio features several other prominent fast-food franchise brands including Baskin-Robbins, Dunkin Brands, Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic. 

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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