Citic Capital arranges last-minute rescue for GNC

The private equity firm was the fixer for its portfolio company’s JV and bought time from its creditors for GNC. Its role highlights a growing trend in China’s going-out deals.

Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Hayao agreed to pay about $300 million for a 40% stake in US vitamin firm GNC Holdings and seal a joint venture in China, the companies said on Tuesday.

But it was Chinese private equity firm Citic Capital that brought the two parties together and gave Hayao the confidence to invest into GNC which is being hounded by creditors, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Pittsburgh headquartered GNC, which retails and makes vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements, will use the capital to pay down debt.

During a frenzied two-to-three week period after Citic Capital, Hayao and GNC...

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