Why Chinese Buyers Would Want to Acquire GNC

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GNC Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNC) could be up for grabs, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. The important question in this discussion is not necessarily how much the nutritional supplement provider will go for, but who is buying it and why.

It’s worth noting that GNC put itself out there aboutfive months ago, and since it has been weighing options from multiple suitors.

Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday morning that GNC officials have met with Chinese buyers over the past few weeks. All of this has been in an effort to gauge interest in the deal. Speculatively, the transaction is expected to be valued up to about $4 billion, the current market cap is about $1.4 billion.

But why is China so interested in GNC?

It is well known that Chinese nationals have been reported as wanting to only buy U.S. vitamins and minerals as the result of so much fraud within the industry in China. Not to mention outright poor quality issues have been rampant.

So effectively China is looking to make a market for U.S. branded vitamins, minerals and supplements.

On the other hand, there could be fallout from U.S. consumers. With fraud and quality controls plaguing this particular industry in China, it could be argued that these Chinese buyers might treat GNC the same way they have treated companies within their own country. In a sense only buying GNC for the brand name.

What is for sure is that nothing has been set in stone yet, and investors seem very happy with the gains that they are seeing for now.

Excluding Wednesday’s move, GNC has underperformed the broad markets, with the stock down about 36% year to date. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock is down about 51%.

Shares of GNC were trading up almost 12% at $21.69 on Wednesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $24.88 and a 52-week trading range of $18.92 to $40.84.