Fast-food giant Yum China rejects US$17.6 billion buyout offer: Report

CHINA (Reuters) - A consortium led by Hillhouse Capital Group is offering US$17.6 billion (S$24 billion) or US$46 per share for Yum China, a purveyor of fried chicken and pizza.

The offer is nearly 24 per cent higher than its closing price on Tuesday (Aug 28).

But, the company has reportedly rejected the buyout deal, which did not offer detailed terms.

Sources told Reuters that Yum China's board decided the offer provided no extra value.

Mr Justin Urquhart Stewart, co-founder of Seven Investment Management, said: "In China, they maintain in fact a monopoly on those brands. Therefore, they are a cash cow... Management would see this as a rather opportunist bid to come in to try and buy assets, albeit at a premium to current price, still at a discounted price to where they were a few months back."

Yum China is the biggest fast-food chain in China, and holds exclusive licensing rights for KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.

It currently operates 8,100 restaurants across the country and was the first major Western fast-food company to enter China.

Its latest move quashes what would have been one of Asia's biggest deals this year.

Mr Stewart added: "So what this will do in fact is actually probably just give further support to say the business like this has got a greater premium than currently being offered."

Yum China declined to comment, but says it has the potential to grow to over 20,0000 stores in the long term.