Key McDonald's technology vendor sold by distressed parent

News

OAK BROOK Ill. Just what the change of ownership at an important McDonald's Corp. software supplier last month means to the fast-food giant's bid to standardize restaurant technology worldwide, if anything, is as of yet unclear.

Torex Hospitality, based here, whose NewPOS point-of-sale-system software has a starring role in McDonald's standardization effort, was sold in mid June by its financially troubled parent, Torex Retail PLC of Banbury, England. Torex Retail Holdings Ltd., an acquisition vehicle created by a division of New York-Based Cerebus Capital Management LP, purchased Torex Hospitality and other Torex businesses and assets for about $415 million and the assumption of debt.

Arequest for comment by officials of Oak Brook-based McDonald's Corp. was unanswered as of press time.

The sale of Torex Retail PLC assets to Cerebus followed a string of stunning revelations by publicly traded Torex beginning earlier this year. The upshot of that news was that the company was broke and headed for the British equivalent of bankruptcy, leaving shareholders with nothing. Britain's Serious Fraud Office reportedly has begun an investigation of the holding company that some British newspapers said touched on, among other things, allegations that the company may have improperly accounted for revenue or profits from the McDonald's contract.

Astatement by the U.S. buyer of the Torex assets said, "This enables Torex to move beyond issues that have impacted the former holding company, which is not being acquired. Torex management will focus on solution development, business integration and drive quality of service that ensures customer satisfaction."

The sale of the McDonald's technology supplier came little more than a year after Torex Retail PLC purchased the software firm, then known as Savista Corp., from its initial U.S. backers, who, at one time, included McDonald's.

At one point, in late 2005, a McDonald's executive indicated that the chain was working to have more than 14,000 restaurants worldwide using NewPOS software by the end of 2007. However the chain has not publicly reconfirmed or updated that timeline in the months since the disclosure, though it did report last fall that at least 5,000 restaurants use NewPOS.

McDonald's Corp. operates or franchises to others more than 30,000 restaurants worldwide.