5 big food firms want McDonald’s North & East biz amid Bakshi row

Common folk aren’t the only ones eyeing a McDonald’s burger hungrily. Five leading names from the restaurant and food business are looking at a possible partnership with McDonald’s India, according to reports.

Restaurant and foods firms Speciality Restaurants, Jubilant FoodWork, Moon Beverages, Lite Bite Foods, and Hardcastle Restaurants have expressed interest in becoming franchise partners for McDonald’s North and East region business amid the American burger chain’s legal battle with its estranged partner, the Vikram Bakshi-led Connaught Plaza Restaurants Ltd (CPRL), the Economic Times reported on Monday.

As reported earlier, last week, an international arbitration panel directed that experts be appointed to determine a fair value of the joint-venture between McDonald’s India and Vikram Bakshi so that the US fast-food chain could buy out its estranged partner.

According to the ET report, while Hardcastle Restaurants, which runs McDonald’s outlets in the West and the South, was seen as the sole contender for the chain’s North and East India markets till some time back, Speciality Restaurants, which owns Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta, Jubilant FoodWorks, which operates the Domino’s Pizza and Dunkin Donuts brands, Moon Beverages, which is Coca-Cola’s largest Indian franchise bottler, and Lite Bite Foods, the promoter of Punjab Grill and Asia Seven, have also thrown their hats into the ring.  

Hardcastle Restaurants Vice-Chairman Amit Jatia has never commented on the topic of operating McDonald’s outlets in North and East India, the financial daily added. 

At stake are over 160 McDonald’s outlets. As reported earlier, CPRL, a joint-venture between Bakshi and McDonald’s India Pvt Lt (MIPL), the Indian subsidiary of McDonald’s Corporation, operates 169 McDonald’s restaurants in north and east India. Of these, 43 outlets operating in Delhi are shut due to non-renewal of eating house licences.

As part of the licence termination, CPRL was asked to stop using McDonald’s name, system, trademark, designs and its associated intellectual property, among others, with effect from September 6.

Bakshi studying arbitration panel ruling, legal options

As reported last week, Bakshi has said that his side is looking into the implications of the “partial award” given by the international arbitration panel in London and the legal options available to him. 

Stressing that his side would “look to the rule of law to protect investment” of various parties involved in the fast food chain business, Bakshi also said his side was ready “to collaborate with anyone in order to achieve a positive outcome for all stakeholders”.

Citing persons familiar with the order, agency reports said that a three-member arbitration tribunal on September 12 directed determination of a fair market value and purchase price of share of Vikram Bakshi and Bakshi Holding Pvt Ltd in CPRL for transfer to joint venture partner MIPL.

The international arbitration tribunal in London rejected Bakshi’s claim that McDonald’s India did not validly terminate the joint-venture.

Bakshi has said: “We are carefully considering the partial award given by the tribunal, its implications as well as our legal options.”

However, reiterating the July 13 National Company Law Tribunal verdict, which reinstated him as the managing director of CPRL, Bakshi said the order “speaks for itself”.

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