US fast-food giant McDonald's will sell a controlling stake in its mainland China and Hong Kong franchise business to a consortium of Citic Group and the Carlyle Group for up to $2.08 billion, the companies said Monday.
Citic Limited, Citic Capital Holdings, Carlyle Group and McDonald's will form a company that will act as the franchisee responsible for the chain's business in mainland China and Hong Kong for 20 years, the companies said in a joint statement.
Citic and Citic Capital will have a stake of 52 percent, Carlyle will take 28 percent, and McDonald's will hold 20 percent of the new company.
The burger chain announced its plan to sell its roughly 2,000 restaurants in China last year, after its sales took a hit as tensions in the South China Sea impacted US companies' results in the country.
Its business in the country also suffered a hit in 2014 after a food safety scandal involving one of its meat suppliers.
The new company will focus on growth in China's smaller, regional cities, and will plan to open more than 1,500 restaurants in the mainland and Hong Kong over the next five years.
Citic, a vast conglomerate with interests in businesses from energy and manufacturing to real estate, said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange that the purchase would deepen its exposure to China's consumer sector, "which is poised to be the main driver of China's economy for decades to come".