• Morgan Stanley to sell Donatos Pizzeria and other McDonald's Partner Brands

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Unable to sell its Partner Brands on its own, McDonald's Corp. has hired Morgan Stanley to move the chains.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, McDonald's worked for a month to sell off 50 percent to 60 percent stakes in its ancillary foodservice chains -- Donatos Pizzeria, Boston Market, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and a minority ownership interest in UK-based Pret-a-Manger. McDonald's also wanted to maintain management control over the properties after the sale. (See related story Despite rumors, Donatos Pizzeria not for sale, says official.)

The Sun-Times cited two unidentified financial buyers who studied the proposition, but declined to pursue a deal because of the control issue, the report said.

The newspaper also cited "a well placed source" claiming multiple Morgan Stanley bankers visited McDonald's headquarters earlier this week.

McDonald's spokesperson, Anna Rozenich, said the company would caution "anyone from jumping to conclusions based on industry rumor and speculation."

Morgan Stanley declined comment.

According to McDonald's 2002 annual report, its Partner Brands generated $1 billion in revenue, but only $10 million in pre-tax earnings.

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