McDonald’s has announced that it will be increasing its minority share ownership in its China business from 20% to 48%. This move comes five years after the fast-food giant sold control of its restaurants in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau to Carlyle and Citic. Since then, McDonald’s has doubled its footprint in China and made it their second-largest market by number of locations.
In 2017, McDonald’s sold off control of its restaurants in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau for $2.1 billion. At that time, Citic, a state-owned investment firm, took the majority stake while private equity giant Carlyle bought a 28% stake. McDonald’s held onto 20% of the business. Now, the company is buying Carlyle’s stake in its China business, increasing its minority share from 20% to 48% ownership.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but are expected to close in the first quarter of 2024 pending regulatory approval. Citic still retains its 52% stake in the business. “We believe there is no better time to simplify our structure,” said McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski in a statement. “Given the tremendous opportunity to capture increased demand and further benefit from our fastest growing market’s long-term potential.”
Since 2017, McDonald’s has doubled its footprint in China to more than 5,500 and aims to reach 10,000 restaurants by 2028. However, sales have struggled since the Covid pandemic began with China accounting for about 4% of the chain’s total revenue, down by an estimated -3.8% from the year prior according to Factset estimates. On McDonald’s latest earnings call, Kempczinski noted that China is dealing with “slowing macroeconomic conditions and historically low consumer sentiment” but also pointed out that they are drawing customers by promoting their burgers.