Exclusive: McDonald's to keep minority stake in China, Hong Kong stores - source

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People walk past the entrance to a McDonald's restaurant in Shanghai, China, July 30, 2015. BRANDS/MCDONALDS REUTERS/Aly Song (Copyright Reuters 2016)

McDonald's Corp is looking to raise $1 billion to $2 billion with the sale of its China and Hong Kong stores after the U.S. fast-food chain decided to keep "a significant minority stake in the business," a person with direct knowledge of the plans said on Tuesday.

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The company has picked a consortium led by private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP and Chinese conglomerate Citic Group Corp [CITIC.UL] to buy the stores and its decision to retain the minority stake lowered the price tag for the business from up to $3 billion expected previously, said the person, who declined to be identified because details of the deal are not public.

McDonald's wants exposure to future growth in the world's second-largest economy which is why it decided to maintain the stake, the person said. The company will also keep for now its stores in South Korea, which it previously also wanted to sell, the person added.

A McDonald's spokeswoman in Shanghai declined to comment. Carlyle declined to comment and CITIC did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

McDonald's in March said it was reorganizing operations in the region, looking for strategic partners in China, Hong Kong and South Korea as it switches to a less capital-intensive franchise model.

(Reporting by Elzio Barreto; Additional reporting by Julie Zhu; Editing by Christopher Cushing)