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07/02/02 . author unknown . Reuters . MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay  
McDonald's acquires outlets in Uruguay  
McDonald's Corp., the world's largest restaurant company, has purchased all 32 of its restaurants in Uruguay for an undisclosed sum from the franchisee that previously controlled them, the local unit's director said on Thursday.  

Rodolfo Oppenheimer, director of Gauchito de Oro S.A., which had the license to operate McDonald's outlets in the tiny South American country, said the restaurants were now under direct control of the Oak Brook, Illinois-based fast-food giant.

"It was something I had to do,'' Oppenheimer told local radio. "It was for strictly personal reasons.''

McDonald's was not immediately available for comment.

The 32 McDonald's restaurants in Uruguay, where the famed Golden Arches first debuted in 1991, employ about 1,500 people. Oppenheimer did not say how much they had been sold for.

Oppenheimer said the sale would not result in any firings or closures of local outlets, and said his decision was not a result of the recession gripping Uruguay due in large part to economic problems in neighboring Argentina and Brazil.

"Without a doubt our business has had a small slowdown following the market movements in this country, but we are in a solid situation,'' Oppenheimer said.

Shares of McDonald's, which operates more than 29,000 restaurants worldwide, were up 3 cents to $27.22 in early afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.  
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