According to a January 21 article from Reuters, GNC is leaning toward going public because the Chinese food conglomerate Bright Food Group Co. has cooled to the prospect of a $2.5 billion acquisition of the supplement retailer. Reuters reported that a “source familiar with the negotiations” suggested that Bright Food has “walked away” from acquisition talks over an inability to settle on a price. Talks may be resumed, but the article avers that an initial public offering (IPO) is most likely in the cards for GNC going forward.

GNC, which is currently owned by private equity firm Ares Management and the board of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, already has two IPO attempts under its belt. Its previous owner, Apollo Management, made two unsuccessful public offerings before selling GNC in 2007. GNC filed registration papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in September 2010 for a potential IPO of $350 million.

The company continues to stay profitable, with its retail revenues up 7.2% and margins up 1.2% in the first nine months of 2010, compared to 2009; though its contract manufacturing and wholesale sales fell 5.2% during the period. GNC retains a strong international retail presence, with 7,100 stores in 48 countries.