Yum! Brands spins off China unit, forms Yum China

Yum China, Yum! Brands spinoff of its KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell locations in mainland China, began operations Tuesday with its appearance as a seperate entity on the New York Stock Exchange Photo courtesy Yum! Brands

NEW YORK, Nov. 2¬†(UPI) — Yum China began trading as a separate company on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday after Yum! Brands spun off its China properties.

Reasoning that its Chinese unit could be better served by a more focused strategy, Yum! Brands, the parent company of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, approved a spinoff in September. It said 384 million shares in the new company were issued at $24.36 each.

On Tuesday, Yum China began trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $24.51 with the ticker symbol “YUMC.”

“We think there’s unlimited growth potential in China,” Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed told CNBC. “We are so far from being saturated it’s not even funny.”

Despite opening more restaurants, Yum! Brands has been losing market share in China, due to shifting consumer tastes, rising nationalistic sentiments and well-publicized issues of food safety. A Yum! Brands spokeswoman told Forbes magazine the company had 30 percent of China’s fast-food market in 2015; Forbes, citing the survey service Euromonitor, said the company had a 40 percent share in 2012.

Creed attributed a 1 percent loss in Chinese stores in the third quarter of 2016 to an international court’s ruling on the South China Sea, which prompted protests in China against popular Western brands, including KFC.

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