McDonald’s is set to increase its minority stake in its China business from 20% to 48% ownership through the acquisition of Carlyle’s stake. This move comes after the fast-food giant sold off control of its restaurants in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau to Carlyle and Citic in 2017 for $2.1 billion. At that time, Citic took the majority stake while Carlyle bought a 28% stake, with McDonald’s holding on to 20%. Financial terms of the deal announced Monday were not disclosed, but it is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024, assuming regulators approve it.
Since then, McDonald’s has doubled its footprint in China to more than 5,500, making it the second-largest market by number of locations. The chain aims to reach 10,000 restaurants by 2028. However, sales in China have struggled since the Covid pandemic began, accounting for about 4% of the chain’s total revenue, down 3.8% from the year prior according to Factset estimates. On McDonald’s latest earnings call, CEO Chris Kempczinski noted that China is dealing with “slowing macroeconomic conditions and historically low consumer sentiment,” although the chain is drawing in customers by promoting its burgers.
“We believe there is no better time to simplify our structure,” Kempczinski said in a statement. “Given the tremendous opportunity to capture increased demand and further benefit from our fastest growing market’s long-term potential.”