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) -- Private equity firm

Thomas H. Lee Partners

has agreed to buy

CKE Restaurants


for about $928 million.

CKE is skyrocketed 23.6% to $11 in pre-market trading.

The purchase will include the assumption of about $309 million of net debt.

Under the deal, stockholders of the owner of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's quick-service restaurant chains will receive $11.05 in cash for each share of CKE common stock they hold -- which represents a 24% premium to the company's closing share price on February 25, 2010 and a 29% premium to the company's volume weighted average closing share price of about $8.60 during the 30 trading days ended February 25, 2010.

In addition, under the merger agreement, CKE Restaurants will actively solicit superior proposals from third parties for a period of 40 days continuing through April 6, 2010.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2010, subject to approval by CKE shareholders, regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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