McDonald's Japan unit says it's working on Pokemon Go; its shares soar

Students playing Pokemon Go at a park in Denpasar, Bali, in Indonesia on July 20.
Students playing Pokemon Go at a park in Denpasar, Bali, in Indonesia on July 20.PHOTO: EPA

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - McDonald's Japanese business says it's working with the developers of Pokemon Go as they bring the hit Nintendo game to the country. The unit's shares rose as much as 10 per cent on Thursday (July 21).

McDonald's Holdings Co, the fast-food giant's affiliate in Japan, expects to start collaborating with Pokemon Go soon, according to a statement responding to news reports.

Developers are working intensely on the Japanese version of the smartphone-based game so that it runs smoothly, the company said. The stock has added 28 per cent since July 14. The company announced on July 19 it would feature figurines based on Pokemon characters such as Pikachu in its Happy Meals.

Pokemon Go, which spurs players to venture into the real world and "catch" creatures using their smartphones, has sparked a worldwide frenzy. It remains unavailable in Japan, where the original Pokemon cartoon series was first created.

"Speculation that McDonald's may tie up with Pokemon Go is sending shares up," Mr Seiichiro Samejima, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Research Institute Inc, said by phone. "They can attract more children."

The game that can be downloaded to users' smartphones free may help retailers and restaurants by attracting customers into their establishments in search of virtual creatures.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on McDonald's collaboration with Pokemon Go, saying its restaurants in Japan would serve as key locations for players.

For now, McDonald's won't offer any Pokemon figurines with Happy Meals at its US locations, said Ms Lisa McComb, a spokesman for the chain.

"We're focused on The Secret Life of Pets, and there are no Pokemon-themed toys planned at this time in the US," she said.