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Pizza chain Papa Murphy's prepares for IPO: sources

By Olivia Oran

(Reuters) - Pizza chain Papa Murphy's is close to selecting banks for an initial public offering that could come later this year, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The Vancouver, Washington-based company, best known for its "take n' bake" pizzas, has been owned by private equity firm Lee Equity Partners since 2010.

Papa Murphy's could not be reached for comment. Lee Equity Partners declined to comment.

Founded in 1981, Papa Murphy's has around 1,350 stores -- the majority of which are franchised -- and is the fifth largest pizza chain in the U.S. Besides pizzas, the chain also sells salads, cheesy bread, cinnamon wheels and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Papa Murphy's has roughly $800 million in revenue across corporate and franchised stores. Lee Equity Partners, founded by billionaire private equity executive Thomas H. Lee, acquired the firm for an undisclosed amount from private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners.

Unlike competitors Pizza Hut, Papa John's International Inc and Domino's Pizza Inc , Papa Murphy's doesn't deliver. Rather, customers buy uncooked pizzas with their selected toppings and then bake the pizzas at home.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York)

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