NEW YORK: Yum China Holdings Inc, which operates Pizza Hut and KFC restaurants, has rejected a buyout offer from an investor group led by Hillhouse Capital Group, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The proposal to take over China’s biggest fast-food operator valued the company at US$17 billion, or US$46 a share in cash, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the rejection. That would represent a 28% premium over the company’s shares as of Monday’s close.
Yum China didn’t immediately respond to requests for a comment.
Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Hillhouse, Baring Private Equity Asia, KKR and DCP Capital had formed a consortium with sovereign fund China Investment Corp to back a potential takeover of the company. The consortium was considering taking Yum China private with an eye to potentially relisting the business in Hong Kong at a later date, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Yum China has been struggling to attract younger Chinese diners to restaurants in the face of increasing local competition and changing eating habits that favour healthier fare. The escalating trade war is also fuelling speculation China could turn to consumer boycotts as part of its pushback against US President Donald Trump’s tariffs. Yum was the target of anti-US protests just two years ago.
Shares of Yum China jumped as much as 12% in New York trading Tuesday, before closing 3.6% higher at US$37.17. The stock is down 7.1% this year, and in July touched the lowest level in 15 months.
Yum China was spun off from Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands Inc in 2016. It operates China’s biggest network of fast-food restaurants, with about 8,200 outlets spread across more than 1,200 cities at the end of June, according to its latest results.