McDonald's Is Close to Deciding on Real-Estate Structure

McDonald’s Corp., working on a company turnaround, is close to deciding what to do with its massive U.S. real-estate portfolio.

The fast-food chain and its board haven’t reached a decision, but have been reviewing and debating options, McDonald’s director Miles D. White told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. McDonald’s has about 14,300 U.S. restaurants, of which about 90 percent are franchised.

Heidi Barker, a company spokeswoman, confirmed White’s comments. Senior leaders will discuss more on business strategy at an investor meeting in November, she said.

Other restaurants have recently faced pressure to spin off real-estate holdings to unlock value for shareholders. Darden Restaurants Inc. said in June it was splitting off about 430 properties and transferring them to a real estate investment trust, also known as a REIT. The REIT then allows the company to lease back the properties.

In McDonald’s case, the idea of creating a REIT are seen as less likely. John Glass, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said last month that the company was unlikely to pursue the option.

Last year, McDonald’s collected about $9.27 billion of its revenue from franchised restaurants. That included both rent and royalties paid by store owners to the company.

McDonald’s shares were little changed at $103.60 at 9:41 a.m. in New York. The stock is up 11 percent this year, helped by comeback prospects under new Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook.

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