July 26, 2016 / 8:09 AM / 3 years ago

McDonald's seeks franchise partners for Singapore, Malaysia stores

A man passes a McDonald's restaurant in Singapore July 25, 2016. Picture taken July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

HONG KONG/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) said it is seeking franchise partners for its restaurants in Malaysia and Singapore as part of its move to away from direct ownership and operation in Asia.

“McDonald’s has taken the decision to adopt a development licensee model for the Malaysia and Singapore markets in order to enable focused investment in the brand and speed up growth in these key Asian markets,” a Singapore-based spokeswoman at McDonald’s said in a statement on Tuesday.

McDonald’s said it was negotiating with “suitable candidates,” for the Malaysia and Singapore markets, but did not provide any details or a timeline.

Sources told Reuters that some suitors looking at both countries had begun to tap banks for financing options to buy the 20-year franchise rights.

The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The move for the Southeast Asian markets follows an announcement by McDonald’s in March that it was reorganizing its Asian operations by bringing in partners who would own the restaurants within a franchise business. Competitor Yum Brands (YUM.N) is also restructuring its China business by spinning it off ahead of a likely IPO next year.

Bloomberg News earlier reported that the sale of McDonald’s franchise rights in Malaysia and Singapore could collectively fetch at least $400 million.

Reporting by Carol Zhong of LPC and Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE; Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar

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