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Who Owns McDonald's (2024)?

With over 38000 restaurants in over 100 countries, McDonald’s is undoubtedly the world’s largest and most ubiquitous fast food chain. McDonald's has a global presence and brand recognition, from the signature Big Mac to the golden arches logo, becoming a globally recognized brand since its founding in 1940.

But who actually owns McDonald’s today? Let’s take a closer look at the ownership structure, leadership, and governance behind the world’s largest restaurant chain.

Who Owns McDonalds

McDonald's History: The McDonald Brothers

McDonald's opened its first restaurant in 1940 in San Bernardino, California, founded by brothers Maurice (“Mac”) and Richard McDonald. The brothers developed an efficient assembly line approach to delivering food quickly at their small drive-in restaurant.

In 1955, businessman Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois after being thoroughly impressed by the brothers’ San Bernardino location. Kroc became a franchise agent for the McDonald brothers, eventually leading to significant expansion. In 1961, Kroc purchased the rights to McDonald's for $2.7 million and established the McDonald's Corporation to begin expanding nationwide. By 1965, Kroc bought out any remaining stakes from the McDonald brothers and led McDonald’s ascent into the world’s largest restaurant empire.

Image Source: McDonald's Website

Who Owns McDonald's?

McDonald’s Corporation, a publicly traded company, is owned by shareholders who own its stock. It has undoubtedly come a long way since the humble beginnings of the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc. Their combined ingenuity and drive laid the foundation for a business empire that has left an indelible mark on the fast-food industry.

First and foremost, the shareholders are the primary owners of McDonald’s. These shareholders can be individuals, institutions, or even other corporations. They invest in McDonald’s through its publicly traded stock, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “MCD.” Shareholders are crucial stakeholders as they have a financial interest in the company’s success and play a role in decision-making processes.

Another important stakeholder in the ownership of McDonald’s is the executive management team. This team is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the company and making strategic decisions. The CEO, board of directors, and other high-level executives fall under this category. They work closely with the shareholders to ensure McDonald’s profitability and growth.

Furthermore, franchisees are significant stakeholders in McDonald’s ownership. Franchisees are individuals or groups that own and operate individual McDonald’s restaurants under a licensing agreement with the company. While they are not direct owners of the entire McDonald’s corporation, they have a vested interest in the success and reputation of their specific franchise. These franchisees maintain operational control over their restaurants and contribute to the overall success of the McDonald’s brand.

As of June 2024, market capitalization is approximately $182.70 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable companies by market cap. Some of the major institutional shareholders are:

  • The Vanguard Group, Inc.

  • BlackRock Fund Advisors


  • Merrill Lynch International

  • Geode Capital Management LLC

  • Eaton Vance Management

  • Wells Fargo Bank NA

  • Wellington Management Co. LLP

  • BlackRock Life Ltd.

These major institutional shareholders collectively hold more than a significant portion of McDonald’s stock, highlighting the extensive reach of its ownership.

In essence, McDonald’s ownership today is distributed across a range of investment entities rather than a single majority owner.

McDonald's Corporation: Corporate Structure and Leadership Team

McDonald’s has a structured leadership team in place to manage the company globally. As a massive multinational corporation, McDonald's has a complex corporate structure spanning both geographical and functional groups. The company’s structure includes a global hierarchy, business units, and function-based groups. Each function-based group is under the leadership of a corporate executive or senior manager, emphasizing corporate control and managerial direction.

McDonald’s U.S. leadership team includes the following key executives:

  • Chris Kempczinski: President and Chief Executive Officer

  • Joe Erlinger: President of McDonalds USA

Wrapping Up

McDonald’s, the iconic fast food chain that has become synonymous with American culture, is a global powerhouse in the fast food industry. With its ubiquitous Golden Arches, the brand seems to be everywhere, but have you ever wondered who actually owns McDonald’s? Founded in the United States, McDonald's has grown exponentially since its inception. In this article, we will dive deeper into the ownership landscape of McDonald’s and uncover some interesting facts.

Contrary to popular belief, McDonald’s is not solely owned by one individual or family. In fact, it is a publicly traded company, meaning that its ownership is spread among numerous shareholders. The largest shareholders are institutional investors, such as mutual funds and pension funds, who own a significant portion of the company. These institutional investors often hold shares on behalf of individual investors who have invested in their funds. The company has also faced various criticisms and legal cases in the United States, particularly in the early 2000s.

Another major group of shareholders in McDonald’s are franchisees. Franchisees are individuals or entities that operate McDonald’s restaurants under a franchise agreement with the company. They own and operate their own restaurants, but are required to adhere to McDonald’s standards and guidelines. While franchisees do not own the entire McDonald’s corporation, their collective ownership collectively contributes to the overall success of the brand.

It is worth noting that McDonald’s also has a board of directors that oversees the company’s operations and strategic decisions. The board is composed of individuals who bring diverse expertise and experience to the table. Shareholders have the ability to elect board members and have a say in the direction of the company through voting on important matters.

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