McDonald's targeting buyout firms as it seeks to sell North Asia stores

Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:10am EDT
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By Denny Thomas

HONG KONG (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp (MCD.N: Quote) is targeting private equity firms, including Bain Capital, MBK Partners, TPG Capital Management and Chinese state-backed conglomerate China Resources (Holdings) for its planned sale of 2,800 restaurants in North Asia, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The U.S. fast food giant is adopting a new business model in Asia, which is now the most intense battleground for global restaurant chains, by planning to bring in partners to own the restaurants within a franchise operation.

Several other global restaurant operators have switched to the so-called franchise model and McDonald's has also set a long-term aim of being 95 percent franchised, the company said in a statement on March 31.

Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's has hired Morgan Stanley (MS.N: Quote) to run the sale of the restaurants in China, Hong Kong and South Korea, the people said. A formal sales process is expected to kick-off in about three to four weeks, one of the people said.

Ahead of that, McDonald's and its advisor are drawing up a list of likely partners who will be approached to participate in the auction, the person added.

The franchise partners would likely end up owning a majority stake in the restaurants in each market, or even as much as 100 percent, and be responsible for future capital spending. The precise structure of the deal is still to be decided, the sources said. In return, McDonald's will get a one-time franchise payment and ongoing royalty fees, which usually range between 3-5 percent of annual turnover.

Asia-focused Baring Private Equity Asia is the other buyouts firm likely to be invited to the auction process, banking sources familiar with the process said.

McDonald's declined to add to the March 31 statement. China Resources, MBK, Bain, TPG and Baring all declined to comment. Morgan Stanley didn't respond to an email seeking comment.   Continued...

A woman walks past a McDonald's outlet in Hong Kong in this July 25, 2014 file photo.  REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/Files