GNC Plans Sale to Chinese Investor; Security Concerns Raised

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Pittsburgh, PA—GNC Holdings, Inc. has canceled its auction and now aims to sell the company to China-based Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Holding Co. As Bloomberg reported, GNC said that since no other qualified bids had emerged by last week’s deadline, the company is seeking approval to sell its assets to Harbin, and a court hearing to approve the sale will be held Thursday, September 17.

GNC had reported this as an option in June, issuing a press release explaining that GNC, Harbin, and a majority of GNC’s lenders reached an agreement in principle for the sale of GNC’s business with a $760 million purchase price.

Retail Dive reported that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has called for a review of the deal, writing a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to request that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States look at the deal. Rubio outlined his concerns in a press release: “The Chinese government engages in persistent efforts to obtain a broad range of sensitive American personal data through illicit means such as state-sponsored theft from government agencies and private companies. The acquisition of a major health and nutrition chain with over 5,200 retail stores in the United States and an expansive customer base presents the opportunity for state-directed actors to purchase this information legally. Efforts to obtain personal and sensitive data related to health information and financial transactions of U.S. persons must be reviewed with an understanding of the malign foreign policy and intelligence aims of the Chinese government and Communist Party.”

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