updated 1/12/2007 4:15:29 PM ET 2007-01-12T21:15:29

McDonald’s Corp. said Friday it is reviewing its strategic options for Boston Market, the meat-and-potatoes restaurant chain it acquired seven years ago as part of a push to diversify its business.

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The statement came after Mike Andres, CEO of Golden, Colo.-based Boston Market, said at the company’s annual meeting of all employees Thursday that McDonald’s is looking at its options involving ownership of the chain.

“We are beginning to look at potential options and will explore our alternatives during 2007,” McDonald’s spokesman Walt Riker said in an e-mailed statement. “No decisions have been made whatsoever and therefore it is absolutely inappropriate to speculate.”

Boston Market spokeswoman Phyllis Hammond denied a report that Andres told the staff that McDonald’s plans to sell the chain.

That option remains a possibility as McDonald’s pares its stable of so-called partner brands, which until relatively recently included Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Donato’s Pizza and Fazoli’s Italian fast-food restaurants. McDonald’s spun off Chipotle last year after disposing of its Donato’s and Fazoli’s involvement in 2003.

The company’s priority, Riker noted, continues to be on the McDonald’s brand.

“Since our revitalization began, we have successfully shifted our organizational resources towards our Plan to Win, driving strong, continued business results for more than three years,” he said.

Boston Market, originally Boston Chicken, has 620 restaurants in 28 states. McDonald’s acquired it in 2000 for $173.5 million.

McDonald’s shares, which rose 31 percent last year, fell 35 cents to $44.16 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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