Hong Kong PEF to take over Burger King Japan

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Hong Kong PEF to take over Burger King Japan

The Asian private-equity firm that has been controlling Burger King’s Korean unit since February last year will also operate the hamburger chain’s outlets that will open in Japan in the future, according to sources in the investment banking on Monday.

Affinity Equity Partners, a Hong Kong-based PEF, signed a master franchise contract with Restaurant Brands International, a Canadian fast food company that owns the Burger King brand, for the Japanese unit. The PEF will be taking care of each store’s management, advertisement and product development.

Under the deal, Affinity will be responsible for any new outlets to be launched in the next 20 years. Burger King, originally American, withdrew from Japan in 2001 and re-entered six years later after Lotte and Revamp, a Japanese enterprise supporting firm, revived the chain under the Burger King Japan name.

Lotte’s fast-food chain Lotteria acquired the Japanese unit and runs 83 outlets. Lotte will maintain its right to operate the existing stores, meaning Burger King branches in Japan will have dual management.

Japan is one of a few countries in the world where the world’s second-most-popular hamburger chain lags far behind McDonald’s. The 83 Burger King stores are less than one third the number of rival McDonald’s.

Affinity’s goal is to double the number of franchises, sources said, by pouring in an initial investment of more than 50 billion won ($44.2 million).

The acquisition follows Affinity’s purchase of Burger King Korea for 210 billion won 20 months earlier.

The number of branches across the country has since picked up from 240 to 300 and posted a net profit of over 8 billion won last year. McDonald’s Korea has over 430 branches, by comparison.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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