In 2017, McDonald’s sold control of its restaurants in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau to Carlyle and Citic. Since then, the fast-food giant has doubled its footprint in China to more than 5,500, making it the second-largest market by number of locations. Today, McDonald’s is announcing that it is buying Carlyle’s stake in its China business, increasing its minority share from 20% to 48% ownership.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski stated that this move simplifies their structure and captures increased demand in the fastest growing market. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024, assuming regulators approve it. Citic still retains its 52% stake in the business. Despite this news, 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.” However, he also pointed out that the chain is drawing customers back by promoting its burgers.