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McD's Philippines franchisee eyes IPO as company's stock hits 7-year high

PHILIPPINES Golden Arches Development Corp., the McDonald's master franchisee in the Philippines, reportedly will undertake an initial public offering in the second half of this year, with proceeds earmarked for further expansion in its local market.

The Philippine Star reported Wednesday that Golden Arches hired Ernst & Young as financial advisor for its pending offering and has started talks with potential underwriters. No details on the size of the offering or a more specific timetable were available.

Also on Wednesday, parent company McDonald's Corp., based in Oak Brook, Ill., saw its stock price hit a seven-year high during trading Wednesday, as analyst reports predicted a strong March sales report, which will be released Friday. Projections for U.S. same-store sales hover around and above a 5-percent gain from a year earlier.

"We heard tests of an Angus burger (Calif.), southern style chicken sandwich (Southeast), and espresso-based beverages (Mich.) are all performing well," analyst Larry Miller, at RBC Capital Markets in Atlanta, said in a research note to clients.

Analysts also predicted sales in Europe and its other foreign markets also will improve from a year ago.

Golden Arches is majority owned by Alliance Global Inc., a holding company for the many entities of businessman George Yang, who purchased a 49-percent stake in Golden Arches in 2005 and since increased the holding to 51 percent. The franchisee operates about 250 McDonald's restaurants in and around metro Manila, placing it second in the Philippine quick-service sector behind 990-unit Jollibee.

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