Sep 18, 2020 - Economy

U.S. nutritional supplements retailer takes first step to sell to China’s Harbin Pharma

Illustration of a chess piece with a gavel top

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

GNC Holdings, the Pittsburgh-based nutritional supplements retailer, received bankruptcy court approval to sell itself to China’s Harbin Pharma for $770 million, although the deal still faces U.S. political pressures over how GNC customer data is protected.

Why it matters: It's a reminder that the U.S.-China merger mess goes well beyond smartphone apps, with Sen. Marco Rubio asking for a CFIUS review.

Details: Harbin still needs Canadian bankruptcy court approval for the deal, which would see it assume around 1,400 storefronts (some of which it would close). For 2019, GNC reported a $35 million net loss on over $2 billion in revenue.

The bottom line: "GNC traces its roots to 1935 when David Shakarian opened a health-food shop selling yogurt and sandwiches in Pittsburgh. The chain rode a wave of interest in nutrition, eventually expanding to over 9,000 outlets. It’s using the bankruptcy process to get out of and renegotiate expensive leases," Bloomberg's Katherine Doherty reports.

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