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Report: Panera Bread explores a sale

Panera Bread is exploring a sale after receiving takeover interest, according to Bloomberg. The St. Louis-based bakery chain's stock surged more than 7% on the news, before being halted at $286.48 per share. At that price, Panera has a market cap of nearly $6.6 billion, an all-time high.

Data: Money.net; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why it matters: If Panera were sold for at least its current market cap, that would make it the largest M&A transaction ever for a U.S.-based restaurant company, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence (and the second-largest for North America, behind the 2014 purchase of Tim Horton's).

Financials: Revenue last year climbed by 4.2% to nearly $4.8 billion, while net income fell by 2.5% to $146 million.

Shareholders: Panera's largest shareholders are: Capital Research & Management Co (9.43% of outstanding shares), Wellington Management (7.38%), Vanguard (7.29%), BlackRock (7.12%) and founder and CEO Ron Shaich (5.4%).