According to a report by the Korean Herald, McDonald's has put its Korean operations up for sale. The Golden Arches reportedly hired Morgan Stanley to shop the business, which has about 415 mostly company-operated units, to a potential strategic partner. It's not known whether McDonald's is shopping the whole Korea operation or just a stake.
A McDonald's spokeswoman didn't immediately return a request for comment.
The possible sale of the Korean business would join McDonald's interest in selling a stake in its Japan outfit.
"As part of our evaluation of ownership strategies around the world, we have been reviewing our ownership levels in all markets -- in conjunction with this effort, we are exploring the sale of a portion of our ownership in McDonald's Japan if we identify a strategic investor who could help advance Japan's turnaround efforts and unlock our growth potential with a view of enhancing value for all stakeholders," confirmed McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook on a Jan. 25 call with analysts.
Easterbrook said McDonald's was in the early stages of the evaluation process for Japan -- which boasts more than 2,900 mostly company-operated restaurants -- and is focusing on finding the right strategic partner.
"I continue to believe that Steve Easterbrook is all about profitable growth worldwide, even as these moves seem a tad quizzical toward that goal," said TheStreet's Jim Cramer.
Despite its desire to unload company-owned locations, which are more cost intensive, McDonald's is by no means vacating Asia.
The company recently announced it would open more than 1,500 restaurants in China, Hong Kong and Korea over the next five years. The Golden Arches currently has about 2,800 restaurants in those three regions, the majority of which are company-owned.