Zhang Yichen, chairman of the new McDonald's China unit, said: "The partnership [with Citic and Carlyle] will strengthen McDonald's China's entrepreneurial spirit, driven by ownership at the local level". Under the deal announced earlier this year, McDonald's still holds a 20% stake in the business.
But McDonald's, which is betting the partnership will help it expand in the world's No 2 economy without using much of its own capital, said it expects to increase the number of stores in mainland China to 4,500 by the end of 2022, from 2,500 now.
The United States fast-food chain McDonald's announced Tuesday it is set to open almost 2,000 new restaurants in China in a span of five years as part of a strategic partnership with Citic and the Carlyle Group.
"China will soon become our largest market outside of the United States".
McDonald's said 45 percent of its China restaurants will be in smaller cities, such as Shantou and Shijiazhuang.More news: Action Lion King casts Rafiki
"I have great confidence in our new partnership to unlock the full growth potential of China". Japan is now McDonald's biggest market after the USA, with nearly 3,000 restaurants.
China's third- and fourth-tier cities will be the focus of the expansion.
The partnership was completed at the end of July and creates the largest McDonald's franchisee outside the United States, it said.
An innovation hub will be set up in Hong Kong and another one in Shanghai, for menu innovation and advanced digital retail experience.
While the company's fries, chicken nuggets and apple pies have been the comfort food for numerous Americans, their Chinese counterparts are not too impressed, especially as many people remember a stale-meat scandal in 2014 that took the already dropping number of patrons into a free fall. In 2016, over 1 billion diners visited McDonald's on the Chinese mainland.