McDonald’s Corporation announced Monday, along with CITIC Limited, CITIC Capital Holdings, and The Carlyle Group, the formation of a partnership and company that will act as the master franchisee responsible for McDonald’s businesses in mainland China and Hong Kong for a term of 20 years.

The total consideration payable by the new company to acquire McDonald’s mainland China and Hong Kong business is up to $2.08 billion. The consideration will be settled by cash and by new shares in the company issued to McDonald’s. After completion of the transaction, CITIC and CITIC Capital will have a controlling stake of 52 percent, while Carlyle and McDonald’s will have interests of 28 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

The partnership will use its combined expertise and resources to accelerate growth in McDonald’s business through new restaurant openings, particularly in tier 3 and 4 cities, and to improve sales performance in existing restaurants. The focus will be on key areas such as menu innovation, enhanced restaurant convenience, retail digital leadership and delivery. It intends to add over 1,500 restaurants in China and Hong Kong over the next five years.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook says, “China and Hong Kong represent an enormous growth opportunity for McDonald’s. This new partnership will combine one of the world’s most powerful brands and our unparalleled quality standards with partners who have an unmatched understanding of the local markets and bring enhanced capabilities and new partnerships, all with a proven record of success. By working together, we will unlock even faster growth and be closer to the customers and communities we serve as McDonald’s works to be the leading quick service restaurant across the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.”

China’s consumer sector is growing rapidly, benefiting from continued urbanisation, an expanding middle class and increasing disposable household incomes. China’s working population is larger than those of the U.S. and Europe combined, yet spending levels of China’s middle class are a small fraction of those in more developed countries. As disposable incomes rise, people will continue to spend more on leisure and dining out, particularly in tier 3 and 4 cities where there is great growth potential. As such, the market for Western Quick Service Restaurants is expected to continue to grow rapidly.

For CITIC, this investment offers a chance to deepen its exposure to the consumer sector, which is poised to be the main driver of China’s economy for decades to come. This transaction is another step in CITIC’s efforts to better balance its financial and non-financial businesses. CITIC also sees opportunities for synergies with its existing businesses.

Chang Zhenming, chairman of CITIC Limited, says: “We believe CITIC’s unique platform and its extensive resources will enable us to help realize McDonald’s full potential in China. Together with our partners, we will devote ourselves to continue upholding McDonald’s extremely high standards of food quality and service. Importantly, this is also a strategic opportunity for CITIC to invest in the expanding Chinese consumer sector. McDonald’s extensive network and consumer base will provide us with invaluable insights, which we will leverage to the benefit of our existing businesses.”

For Carlyle, this investment offers the chance to partner with an iconic brand with sizeable market share and growth potential in China. Carlyle has years of strong investment and operating experience in the global consumer and retail sector, and is well positioned to drive further growth of the new company. Equity for this transaction will come from Carlyle Asia Partners IV. Carlyle has invested more than $7 billion of equity in approximately 90 transactions in China, as of 30 September 2016.

X.D. Yang, managing director and co-head of the Asia buyout team of The Carlyle Group, will serve as Vice Chairman of the board of the new company. He says, “Carlyle and CITIC have a strong history of partnering together. Today, we are pleased to cooperate with CITIC again, alongside McDonald’s, on one of our largest deals in China. This substantial investment demonstrates our confidence in the strength of the Chinese consumer.”

Yichen Zhang, chairman and CEO of CITIC Capital, will serve as Chairman of the board of the new company. He says, “McDonald’s core business proposition and potential in China is clear. We will work closely with the existing management team and partners, including Beijing Capital Agribusiness Group, to respond to local market expectations and continue to expand and improve the business to meet the needs of the Chinese consumer.”

As part of its turnaround plan announced in May of 2015, McDonald’s committed to refranchising 4,000 restaurants by the end of 2018, with the long-term goal of becoming 95 percent franchised. As a result of this transaction, McDonald’s is refranchising more than 1,750 company-owned stores in China and Hong Kong.

As of 31 December 2016, McDonald’s operates and franchises over 2,400 restaurants in mainland China and more than 240 restaurants in Hong Kong. It has built one of the strongest brand names and most robust systems in the region over the past three decades. Currently employing over 120,000 staff and serving over one billion customers annually in China, McDonald’s is the second largest quick service restaurant chain in China and the largest in Hong Kong.

Upon completion of the transaction, the new company will have a board of directors with representatives from CITIC, CITIC Capital, Carlyle and McDonald’s. McDonald’s existing management team will continue to lead the business.

The deal is contingent upon relevant regulatory approvals. The deal is expected to close in mid-2017.

Fast Food, Finance, Franchising, News, McDonald's