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GNC pops 12% following report of interest from Chinese buyers

Pedestrians walk by a GNC store in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Shares of the popular vitamin and supplement retailer GNC Holdings surged 10 percent Wednesday after a report that the company was in talks with Chinese buyers interested in acquiring the nutrition giant.

A buyout involving the Pittsburgh-based company could be worth about $4 billion including debt, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation. GNC's market value is around $1.3 billion, according to FactSet.

Interested companies include Fosun Group and investment firm ZZ Capital International, as well as other Chinese pharmaceutical companies, the report said.

If a GNC deal materializes, it would be the biggest Chinese deal in the nutrition sector since June, when China's Xiwang Foodstuffs bought Iovate Health Sciences International in a deal worth about $730 million.

GNC's stock closed at $21.49 a share. The company is up about 5.2 percent this quarter. Year-to-date, the stock is down about 30 percent, according to FactSet.

GNC told CNBC that as a matter of corporate policy, the company "does not comment on rumors or market speculation."