Hedge fund Pershing Square Capital is pressing McDonald's to sell off a quarter of its 30,000 worldwide outlets to franchisees in a bid to boost profitability. The fund has built up a stake of almost 5% in the fast food giant, worth $2bn (£1.1bn). McDonald's already franchises three-quarters of the restaurants it operates and owns the rest. It also owns around 40% of the land beneath all its outlets. Under plans put forward by Pershing boss Bill Ackman, the franchise and real estate operations, which both generate high rates of return, would remain unchanged. Earlier this year, the fund built up a 10% stake in Wendy's, the third largest hamburger chain in America. Ackman then pushed the reluctant company to spin off its Tim Horton's doughnut shop business and sell land. The Independent on Sunday 02/10/05 (Business) page 4