A deal to sell McDonald's roughly 2,400 restaurants in China and Hong Kong will be worth up to $3 billion, a source says. Fred Katayama reports.
A source says McDonald's is nearing a deal to sell its stores in China and Hong Kong. The burger chain is negotiating with a consortium led by private equity firm Carlyle and the Chinese conglomerate, Citic Group. The source estimates the deal to sell the 2,400 restaurants will be worth up to $3 billion. Savio Chan of U.S.-China Partners: (SOUNDBITE) SAVIO CHAN, CEO, US CHINA PARTNERS, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Citic, it's a great Chinese organization, state enterprise, strong on capitalgreat footprint, a lot of capital resources, and Carlyle China has been doing a lot of the consumer retail investments in the last few years. They invest in many of them, many of them successfully, so they have a very good handle on this side of the retail consumer side. ." Reuters reporter Lauren Hirsch is covering the story. (SOUNDBITE) LAUREN HIRSCH, REPORTER, REUTERS, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "McDonald's is doing this because it's getting harder to run the business in China. People aren't buying fast food as much. It was a novelty ten years ago - less so now. There have also been a bunch of health safety questions around fast food in the country that made running the business as little bit more difficult." Facing a similar situation, the owner of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, YUM Brands, spun off its China operations this fall. The source says the two sides will likely seal a deal before Christmas.