Atlanta-AFC Enterprises Inc. said it would "explore strategic alternatives" for its Cinnabon chain, including a possible sale of the 617-store subsidiary. AFC, which also owns and franchises Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits and Church's Chicken, said the move was part of efforts to "sharpen its strategic focus and maximize shareholder value."

The Cinnabon World Famous Bakery & Coffee brand, which AFC acquired in 1998, has more than 10,000 licensed points of sales in addition to its corporate-owned and franchised outlets. Cinnabon also owns the international franchise rights for Seattle's Best Coffee in 11 countries, Hawaii and at U.S. military bases. Those assets would be part of any transaction, AFC stated.

AFC's board hired New York-based Bear Stearns & Co. to advise on alternatives and a possible sale.