Updated from 3:56 a.m. EDT

MIAMI ( TheStreet) --- Burger King ( BKC), the No. 2 fast-food chain, has been in talks with private-equity firms in recent weeks about a possible sale, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The stock was surging by 16.1% to $19.10 in premarket trading Wednesday.

The status of the talks is unclear but one interested firm was 3i Group, a British private-equity firm, the Journal says, citing people familiar with the matter.

A spokeswoman for Burger King declined comment for the newspaper; 3i wasn't available for comment.

Burger King, a public company since 2006, has been in the hands of private equity before, the Journal notes. In 2002, a group led by TPG Capital, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners bought Burger King for about $1.5 billion from Diageo ( DEO). The firms still own 32% of Burger King, and have significant representation on the board.

Burger King, which operates more than 12,000 restaurants around the world, has been a victim of a sluggish recovery in the global economy. Its sales across the globe for the 2010 fiscal year fell 2.3%, compared with a 1.2% rise the prior year. Its U.S. and Canadian shares also declined 3.9%, the Journal notes.

Burger King's market capitalization is about $2.26 billion.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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