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McDonald's chooses Carlyle consortium to buy China franchise

Agencies | Updated: 2016-12-07 09:10

McDonald's Corp has picked a consortium led by private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP and Chinese conglomerate CITIC Group Corp to buy its Chinese mainland and Hong Kong stores for as much as $2 billion while keeping a minority stake in the business, according to US media reports on Tuesday.

An announcement could be made as early as next week, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The decision by McDonald's to retain a stake of up to 25 percent lowered the price tag for the business from up to $3 billion expected previously, said a person familiar with the deal who declined to be identified because details are not public, Reuters reported.

McDonald's wants exposure to future growth in the world's second-largest economy which is why it decided to maintain the stake, the person said. The company will also keep for now its stores in South Korea, which it previously also wanted to sell, the person added.

A McDonald's spokeswoman in Chinese mainland declined to comment. Carlyle declined to comment and CITIC did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

McDonald's in March said it was reorganizing operations in the region, looking for strategic partners in Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and South Korea as it switches to a less capital-intensive franchise model.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's owns most of its more than 2,800 restaurants in the three markets. It is offering a 20-year franchise to buyers with a 10-year extension option.

The sale comes at time when fast-food operators including McDonald's and Yum Brands Inc are recovering from a series of food-supply scandals in Chinese mainland that have undermined their performance.

Yum, best known for the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands, agreed to sell a $460 million stake in its Chinese mainland unit to investment firm Primavera Capital and an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd ahead of a planned spin-off of the business.

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