ST. LOUIS — Panera is being acquired by Europe’s JAB Holding Co. for more than $7 billion.

JAB is better known for the growing stable of brands it owns or has a big stake in, including Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee Co., Stumptown Coffee and Keurig Green Mountain and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

For days there have been rumors of a deal for Panera, with one of the companies reportedly interested being Starbucks Corp.

On Wednesday, the St. Louis sandwich and soup chain revealed that it was actually JAB, an investment fund based in Luxemburg that has quietly become a Starbucks rival.

“Our success for shareholders is the byproduct of our commitment to long-term decision making and operating in the interest of all stakeholders, including guests, associates, and franchisees,” said Panera founder and CEO Ron Shaich. “We believe this transaction with JAB offers the best way to continue to operate with this approach. We are pleased to join with JAB…”

Shaich opened a Boston cookie store in the early 1980s and expanded to more than 2,000 bakery-cafes with annual revenue of $5 billion in sales.