Burger King Sale Halted

LONDON -- Diageo PLC, the world's largest liquor company, tried to salvage the sale of its Burger King business after the U.S. investors who had agreed to the deal insisted on more attractive terms.

Talks continued with the investor consortium -- comprising Texas Pacific Group, Boston-based Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners -- and both sides were still committed to the deal, the Associated Press reported.

Diageo wants to unload Burger King so that it can concentrate solely on its drinks business. The company aims to plow money from the sale into its liquor brands, which include Johnny Walker Scotch and Smirnoff Vodka.

The investor group had agreed in July to buy the fast-food chain for $2.26 billion. Miami-based Burger King has more than 11,400 restaurants worldwide and is the No. 2 fast-food chain after McDonald's Corp. The consortium asked last week for possible changes to its agreement with Diageo given the weakened conditions in Burger King's markets and their potential impact on the buyers' ability to obtain financing.

In the latest development, the buyers' group said explicitly that it could not do the deal as agreed. However, it expressed a desire to continue talks toward "a transaction materially different as to terms and structure," Diageo said. The British company said it still hopes to complete the sale by year's end but was considering other options available to it.