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McDonald's has no plans for corporate change

McDonald’s Corp. CEO Jim Skinner denied any interest by the fast-food company on Monday in making a significant change to its corporate structure.
/ Source: The Associated Press

McDonald’s Corp. CEO Jim Skinner denied any interest by the fast-food company on Monday in making a significant change to its corporate structure.

Skinner made his comments to franchisees in a letter released by the company, responding to speculation about the possibility of a major restructuring that might involve McDonald’s vast real-estate holdings.

He said the company has no intention of taking on a large-scale restructuring either through a spinoff of the division that runs its company-owned restaurants or through a real estate investment trust.

“Neither would be in the best interests of our system or our shareholders,” Skinner said.

Skinner’s remarks came less than six weeks after the company voiced disinterest in spinning off its real-estate holdings to improve shareholder value. At a Sept. 21 meeting with analysts at its headquarters, Chief Financial Officer Matthew Paull said moving ownership of the nearly 14,000 U.S. McDonald’s into a REIT would be costly and complicated and could cause “irreparable damage” to franchisee relationships and corporate strategy.

The speculation surfaced in September with an unconfirmed report that hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP had bought a substantial minority stake in McDonald’s and might pressure the company to monetize some assets to drive up its stock price.

Skinner said in his letter that the company is “continually looking for ways to enhance shareholder value,” and cited its recent announcement that it expects to return $5 billion to $6 billion to shareholders in 2006-07 through dividends and share repurchase.

“We also remain committed to franchising and operating restaurants,” he added.

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.