Chinese pharmaceutical group may bid for ailing GNC

Chinese firm Harbin Pharmaceutical Group is poised to take over and privatize US vitamin and retailer supplier GNC.

The firm acquired a 40-per-cent shareholding in the company last year, initiating an e-commerce business in joint venture with GNC in China. Harbin currently owns its stake as convertible preferred shares.

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The potential takeover is complicated by GNC’s heavy debt load, which four months ago stood at US$900 million, and the current political climate between China and the US. GNC has lost more than half its value over the past year.

GNC operates more than 4800 stores in the US and has franchises in 46 international territories. It is expected to shutter 900 outlets by the end of next year.

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