KUALA LUMPUR: One of Thailand’s top businessmen is said to be interested in buying a substantial stake in the company that controls the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut chains in Malaysia.
According to a report in The Star, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, who controls Thai Beverage Public Company Ltd, wants to buy a major stake in QSR Brands (M) Holdings Sdn Bhd.
QSR operates more than 750 KFC restaurants in Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Brunei. It also operates about 450 Pizza Hut restaurants in Malaysia and Singapore.
In addition, it is involved in breeder and contract broiler farming, hatcheries, poultry processing as well as a host of ancillary businesses.
Johor Corp (JCorp) owns 51% of QSR while the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and private equity firm CVC Capital Partners own 25% and 24% respectively.
Thai Beverage Public Company Ltd, which brews and markets Chang beer, is already in the process of taking over the entire KFC chain of operations in Thailand.
The Star quoted sources as saying Charoen was now interested in expanding into the fast food industry in Malaysia and wants to acquire the stakes held by the EPF and CVC.
The report said CVC, which has a five-year time frame to exit its investment, would be keen to sell while the EPF would sell if the price was right.
JCorp took KFC private in 2012 through QSR Brands in a deal that was listed at RM5.1 billion. The deal was only completed in early 2013.
According to the report, since last year, KFC was touted for a listing on Bursa Malaysia but this has not taken place.
Apart from Thai Beverage Public Company Ltd, Charoen, the third richest man in Thailand, also owns Fraser and Neave Ltd (F&N) in Singapore, a company that he took over in January 2013. F&N Singapore owns the Malaysian outfit.
The stake in QSR will give him access to markets beyond Thailand, including data on consumer trends in the fast growing Asean region, the report said.
Thai Beverage Public Company Ltd’s US$340 million (RM1.43 billion) acquisition of Thailand’s KFC business – with 240 outlets – is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.