Belfast Telegraph

Guy Hands makes deal to buy McDonald's Nordic operations

Private equity baron Guy Hands has struck a deal to acquire the Nordic operations of fast food giant McDonald's.

McDonald's said it will transfer ownership interests to Mr Hands - co-founder and chairman of Terra Firma Capital Partners - and grant a licence allowing him to develop and operate the company's restaurants in Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but it has previously been reported that the transaction could be worth around 420 million US dollars (£335 million).

Mr Hands is expected to keep the McDonald's name and products across the Nordic operations.

McDonald's foundational markets president Ian Borden said: "Based on his strong track record of developing successful businesses through focused management and active investment to drive growth, we're confident that he is the right partner to build on the positive momentum McDonald's is experiencing in these markets."

The personal agreement - which was not struck through Terra Firma - is Mr Hands's first major deal with the fast-food chain.

McDonald's began searching for a strategic partner to run the regional business - consisting of around 435 restaurants, 95% of which are franchised - over a year ago.

It is the latest in a string of partnership deals struck by McDonald's, which committed to refranchising 4,000 restaurants by 2018.

Around 18 development licences have been granted across Europe as part of those plans, including in Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Malta and Romania.

The Nordic deal is expected to be completed by the end of March.

Mr Hands said: "I and my family look forward to working with the McDonald's teams in place across the region.

"We plan to leverage our industry knowledge and financial expertise, take a rigorous approach to insights and analysis and employ a hands-on approach to operational excellence to build on the strength of the brand with customers and create growth opportunities for franchisees, employees and staff."

Mr Hands is best known for his 2007 takeover of EMI, the record label that signed The Beatles. The deal ended in disaster when he was forced to hand the business over to lender Citigroup four years later.

Terra Firma also owns Four Seasons, Britain's biggest care homes operator. Terra Firma is locked in discussions with the group's lenders over its large debt pile.