McDonald’s has announced that it is buying a larger stake in its China business, increasing its minority ownership from 20% to 48%. In 2017, 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 is now the second-largest restaurant chain in the market by number of locations. The company aims to reach 10,000 restaurants by 2028.
The deal was announced on Monday but financial terms were not disclosed. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024 pending regulatory approval. Citic still retains its 52% stake in the business.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski stated that “We believe there is no better time to simplify our structure, given the tremendous opportunity to capture increased demand and further benefit from our fastest growing market’s long-term potential.” Despite this increase in ownership, McDonald’s sales in China have struggled since the Covid pandemic began. The country accounts 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, 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.