On Wednesday, July 24, Filipino-owned company Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC), most renowned for their tasty signature fried chicken Chickenjoy (and famous happy-looking bee mascot!), announced its largest global acquisition to-date — a US$350-million deal to buy California-based firm The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL).

In a disclosure to the stock exchange on Wednesday, JFC said its wholly owned unit, Jollibee Worldwide Pte. Ltd. (JWPL), agreed to invest US$100 million in a new Singapore-based holding firm that will acquire 100 percent of the CBTL brand. The total consideration for the transaction is $350 million on a debt-free basis, so CBTL will have no debt upon acquisition.

This is the latest (and largest) pearl in Jollibee’s string of global acquisitions.

“The acquisition of the CBTL brand will be JFC’s largest and most multinational so far with business presence in 27 countries… Our priority is to accelerate the growth of CBTL brand particularly in Asia, by strengthening its brand development, marketing, and franchise support system,” JFC Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong said in a statement.

The Jollibee story is a rags-to-riches one, a road paved with hard work, business acumen, and good food.

It began with Filipino entrepreneur Tony Tan Caktiong.

Photo: Founder and Chairman of Jollibee Foods Corporation Tony Tan Caktiong/YouTube screen grab

Caktiong was born third out of seven siblings in a poor family. Determined to make it despite their low-income status, the family established a restaurant business in Davao, which enabled young Caktiong to study Civil Engineering in the University of Santo Tomas.


  • 22-year-old Tony Tan Caktiong opened an ice cream parlour in Cubao, Philippines, which would later become the first ever Jollibee outlet.


  • Caktiong decided to start serving hamburgers, fried chicken and slightly sweet spaghetti, the way Filipinos like it!
  • The eatery was renamed “Jollibee”, to represent the happy and hardworking business owners, staff and customers.
  • Jollibee is incorporated as a 100 percent Filipino-owned company, with seven Jollibee fast food restaurants within Metro Manila as its initial network.


Photo: Chickenjoy, Jollibee’s signature fried chicken/Jollibee Facebook
  • Jollibee’s signature fried chicken, Chickenjoy, was launched.
  • The Jollibee mascot (a jolly bee!) was conceived.
  • Chickenjoy achieves best-selling status.


  • Jollibee Foods Corporation entered the list of Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines.


  • Jollibee made it to the Top 500 Philippine Corporations and assumes market leadership in Philippine fast food industry.


  • Jollibee climbed up to join the Philippine’s Top 250 Corporations.


  • Sales of PHP 570 million pushed Jollibee into the elite Top 100 Corporations in the Philippines.
  • Jollibee opened its first fast food outlet outside of the Philippines in Brunei, marking its entry into the global market.


  • Jollibee opened its 100th outlet.
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Photo: JFC acquired Greenwich Pizza and Pasta/Greenwich Facebook
  • JFC acquired 80 percent of shares of Filipino-owned brand Greenwich Pizza and Pasta.


  • Jollibee conquered more of the global market, opening outlets in Guam, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Jeddah, and Saudi Arabia.


  • Jollibee opened its 200th outlet.


  • Jollibee opened its first store in the United States in Daly City, California.
  • Jollibee’s total store reached 300 outlets.


Photo: JFC acquired Chowking/Chowking Facebook
  • JFC acquired Filipino fast-food business Chowking, which serves Chinese fast-food with a Filipino twist.


  • JFC store network expanded to 800 restaurants, which included Greenwich (pizza) and Chowking (Filipino-Chinese fast-food) stores.
  • Jollibee opened its 400th outlet.


  • Jollibee celebrated its 25th year anniversary.


  • Jollibee opens its 500th store.
  • JFC acquired its first foreign brand – Yonghe King, a fast food chain in China.


Photo: JFC acquired Red Ribbon Bakeshop/Red Ribbon Facebook
  • JFC acquired Filipino-owned Red Ribbon Bakeshop.


  • JFC bought out the remaining shares of its partners in Greenwich Pizza Corp., equivalent to a 20 percent stake.


  • Jollibee opened its 600th outlet.
  • Jollibee opened its first Las Vegas outlet.


Photo: JFC acquired Mang Inasal/Mang Inasal Facebook
  • JFC acquired 70 percent of Mang Inasal, a Filipino-owned grilled chicken brand.
  • Jollibee opened its 700th store.
  • Jollibee opened its first store in Qatar.


Photo: JFC acquires 54 percent managing stake of Burger King in the Philippines/Burger King Facebook
  • JFC acquired a 54 percent stake in BK Titans, Inc., the sole franchisee of Burger King in the Philippines.
  • Jollibee opened its first store in Hawaii, USA.


  • Jollibee opened its first store in Kuwait.
  • Jollibee is named by New York-based magazine Travel + Leisure as one of the best fast food chains in the world.
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  • Jollibee opened its first store in Singapore, which hit a record first-day sales.
  • Jollibee opened its 800th store.
  • Jollibee opened its 100th international store in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.


  • Jollibee reached 1000 outlets as it opened its first store in Dubai, UAE.
  • Jollibee opened its first store in Bahrain.


Photo: JFC is exclusive operator of Dunkin’ Donuts in China/Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook
  • JFC entered a joint venture to be the exclusive operator of Dunkin’ Donuts in China, with plans to launch 1,400 stores in the world’s second-largest economy over 20 years.
  • JFC acquired the remaining 30 percent of Mang Inasal stakes.


Photo: JFC is master franchise holder of Hong Kong brand Tim Ho Wan/Tim Ho Wan Facebook
  • JFC invested S$45 million in a fund set to become the master franchise holder of Michelin-starred, Hong Kong-owned dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan.
Photo: JFC acquired American burger brand Smashburger/Smashburger Facebook
  • JFC acquired classic American burger brand Smashburger, which has more than 300 outlets across the US, UK and Canada, and some in Saudi Arabia.
Photo: JFC acquired a nearly 50 percent stake in Tortas Frontera/Tortas Frontera Facebook
  • JFC invested US$12.4 million (S$16.9 million) for a nearly 50 percent stake in Tortas Frontera, a US-Mexican food brand that serves sandwiches of pork, beef and chicken with sides of salsa and guacamole.


Photo: JFC acquired The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf/CBTL Facebook
  • Jollibee invested US$350 million to purchase California-based specialty coffee and tea chain The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL), marking it as its largest and most multinational acquisition (with outlets in 27 countries) to date.