By Simon Clark

Guy Hands, a pioneer of the European private-equity industry, agreed to buy McDonald's Corp.'s Nordic restaurants for an undisclosed amount with plans to work on the business with his family.

McDonald's said that Mr. Hands will become its so-called development licensee for Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden, overseeing the franchise network. Mr. Hands will provide capital to expand the business, which has about 435 restaurants in the region.

The announcement shows Mr. Hands is now funding his own deals as well as finding them. Private equity deal makers usually raise money from investors like pension managers and insurers to fund takeovers of companies whose performance they then try to improve before selling them on within five years for a profit.

Mr. Hands is named as the buyer of the Nordic franchise, rather than his London-based investment firm, Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd.

Terra Firma once raised multibillion-dollar funds from investors to buy pubs, cinemas, garden centers and other companies. The firm got into difficulty with its unsuccessful acquisition of music publisher EMI Group in 2007. The deal lost GBP1.75 billion ($2.2 billion) for Terra Firma and co-investors. Last year, Mr. Hands dropped a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against CitigroupInc. in which he accused the New York-based bank of misleading him during the EMI acquisition.

"I and my family look forward to working with the McDonald's teams in place across the region," Mr. Hands said in a statement.

Mr. Hands' wife Julia owns a chain of British hotels. The husband-and-wife-team "intend to leverage their industry experience to further develop the McDonald's brand," according to the statement. Mr. Hands couldn't be reached for comment.

The financier is chairman and chief investment officer of Terra Firma. In 2015, he hired Justin King, the former chief executive officer of British supermarket chain J Sainsbury PLC, as vice chairman. At the time, Mr. Hands and Mr. King said they planned to raise a new buyout fund for Terra Firma.

McDonald's is selling the Nordic franchise as part of long-term plans to franchise 95% of its stores globally. Since the beginning of 2015, McDonald's has sold nearly 1,000 of its restaurants to franchisees, the company said in October.

Earlier this month, the Oak Brook, Ill., company said it would sell an 80% stake of its China operations to a groupof investors that includes U.S. private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP and China's Citic Ltd.

"We look forward to welcoming Guy Hands as our strategic partner in the Nordics," said Ian Borden, president of McDonald's foundational markets.

Mr. Hands told students in London earlier this month that he suffered from dyslexia and dyspraxia at school, yet managed to attend Oxford University and then join Goldman Sachs Group Inc. He has since become very wealthy. In 2015, he said that at least half of the EUR1 billion ($1.07 billion) Terra Firma had available to invest was his own money.

"For me to succeed, I had to come up with different ideas and break the norm," Mr. Hands told the students at the London School of Economics. "You have to be willing to make mistakes. And you have to be prepared to fail, because that's the only true way to learn."

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 27, 2017 09:41 ET (14:41 GMT)

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