Burger King parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI), announced plans to acquire Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the southern fried chicken chain for $1.8bn.

Ontario-based RBI was formed in 2014 when Burger King merged with the Canadian donut shop Tim Hortons.

It is majority-owned by 3G Capital, the Brazilian private equity firm, a big investor in Kraft Heinz, the US food giant which last week failed to merge with Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company.

RBI will pay $79 a share to buy Popeyes, which opened its first shop 45 years ago in New Orleans.

The deal will be financed with cash and a loan from JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.

“With this transaction, RBI is adding a brand that has a distinctive position within a compelling segment and strong U.S. and international prospects for growth,” said Daniel Schwartz, RBI’s chief executive.

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Popeyes, with 2,631 shops worldwide, boasts celebrity fans including the popstar Beyonce.

Popeye’s shares surged by almost 20 percent in pre-market trading to $78.69 a piece.

“RBI has observed our success and seen the opportunity for exceptional future unit growth in the U.S. and around the world. The result is a transaction that delivers immediate and certain value to the Popeyes shareholders,” said Cheryl Bachelder, chief cxecutive of Popeyes in a statement.

The transaction is expected to close by early April 2017.