McDonald's target private equity firms in Asia as it seeks super size sell-off of 2,800 restaurants

Francesca Washtell
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McDonald's is targeting private equity investors to take over almost 3,000 stores in North Asia (Source: Getty)

Global fast food giant McDonald's has begun targeting private equity firms in its bid to sell 2,800 restaurants located in northern Asia.

Bain Capital, MBK Partners, TPG Capital Management and the Chinese state-backed conglomerate China Resources (Holdings) are among the firms that have been approached about the buyouts, Reuters reported.

The Big Mac maker is serving up a new business model in Asia, where it is bringing in partners to own the restaurants within a franchise operation.

McDonald's announced its long-term goal to become almost entirely franchised in the region in a statement at the end of March.

"Last year, McDonald's committed to strategically evaluate ownership structures in markets around the world with the overall goal of reducing the number of restaurants that the company owns and operates. The result of this will be to place more restaurants under local ownership, in the hands of local franchisees, with a long-term goal of being 95 per cent franchised. The identification of strategic partners in Asia is consistent with this strategy," the company said in its statement.

China, Hong Kong and Korea collectively represent more than 2,800 of the company's restaurants, of which the majority are currently company-owned, and McDonald's intends to open more than 1,500 branches in the three countries over the next five years.

The company will also start to identify strategic partners in Japan and Taiwan.

"Asia represents a significant area of opportunity for McDonald's to blend our global quality standards with local insights and expertise from partners who share our vision and values," said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's President and CEO. "This will allow McDonald's to accelerate our growth and scale faster across diverse markets placing us closer to our customers and the communities we serve."

McDonald's was recently among 10 UK and US restaurant chains to receive a letter from institutional investors urging it to cut down on the use of antibiotics in its global meat and poultry supply chains.

The company's global like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter of 2015 jumped five per cent, thanks in part to the launch of its All Day Breakfast offer last October.