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PJ United, the nation's largest franchisee of Papa John's Pizza stores, announced today it has acquired 26 Papa John's Pizza stores from Gaunce Management Inc. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

PJ United is a portfolio company of The Halifax Group, a private equity firm specializing in partnering with owners and managers of middle-market businesses.

Gaunce operated 26 stores, located in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois. With this acquisition, PJ United increases its ownership of Papa John's stores from 132 to 158 stores. PJ United now owns Papa John's restaurants in 10 states: Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and Utah.

In November 2007, Halifax partnered with PJ United and its founder and CEO, Doug Stephens, in a management-led buyout of the company.

"PJ United is pursuing a strategy of measured growth, and the addition of these stores will allow us to continue to expand in our current footprint while adding service territory throughout the Southeast and Midwest," Stephens said.

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