Yum China takeover bid in discussion

A KFC store in China. Image: Bigstock.

Yum China could be the target of a takeover bid, which if it proceeds would make it the largest consumer-company sale in Chinese history.

Citing “people with knowledge of the matter” Bloomberg is reporting that China Investment Corp (CIC) is backing a bid for Yum China, presumably at a premium to its market value of US$13.6 billion. CIC would be backed by DCP Capital, an investment business headed by former executives of private-equity company KKR, Baring Private Equity Asia and KKR itself.

Yum China, which operates the Pizza Hut and KFC fast-food businesses in China was spun off by Yum! Brands in 2016.  

No final decision has been made on a bid and the parties involved may change should it proceed.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, the bidders plan to take the company private before relisting it at some time in the future on the Hong Kong exchange.

None of the parties said to be involved provided any comment to the news service when approached.

Yum China is struggling to grow sales despite having the largest footprint of any fast-food operator in the world’s largest consumer market – currently more than 8000 stores across 1200 cities. Its share price has fallen 14 per cent this year as concerns grow about the company’s ability to grow given increased competition from local brands, consumer preferences for healthier foods, and concerns over the impact of the US-China trade war on American brands. Same-store sales slipped 1 per cent in the last quarter.

Yum China is estimated to hold 11 per cent of China’s chain-restaurant market, well ahead of second-placed McDonald’s with 5.3 per cent. 

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