ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Panera is exploring a possible sale after receiving takeover interest.

Bloomberg’s Ed Hammond reports there is a lot of speculation in the fast casual market. The question is: Who would be interested?

Hammond says a lot of people would be interested, but he points out, the size and valuation of Panera at over $6 billion dollars makes it difficult for most to buy them.

“I think the obvious people we are looking at is JAB, which is this sort of big consolidating force in this space at the moment,” Hammond says. “They’ve done deals with Keurig Green Mountain Coffee. They recently bought Krispy Kreme.”

Both Dominoes and Starbucks have also been mentioned as interests. He says the one brand that likely won’t be in the running is the owner of Tim Horton’s – who just bought Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen which may take them out of the acquisition market.

Panera’s stock rose more than 10 percent on the news of a possible sale Monday. Hammond says the Sunset Hills-based bakery cafe is working with advisers about the possible sale.

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