Yum Announces Separation of Its China Business and Raises Dividend

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Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) has finally done it. The company has announced that it is separating its China business from Yum Brands. The newly split company will now be known as Yum China Holdings. The split will take place after the close on October 31 and Yum China will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol YUMC. At the same time, the company announced an increase in its dividend.

The board declared an increased dividend of $0.51 per share, payable on November 4, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on October 19. This dividend represents an 11% increase from the previous quarterly dividend of $0.46 per share.

Since Yum announced its intention to separate Yum China, the company has repurchased roughly $5.1 billion in shares at an average price of $80, reducing its share count by about 15% as of September 23.

Looking even further ahead, the company expects to repurchase an additional $1.1 billion in shares before the end of 2016 to achieve its previously announced plan to return $6.2 billion of capital to shareholders (excluding dividends) in connection with the separation of its China business.

Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands, commented:

We are moving full steam ahead with the separation of Yum China, establishing two powerful, independent and focused growth companies dedicated to building on our brand strengths and unlocking the full value of each business for our shareholders. As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, Yum! Brands will continue to focus on expanding the presence and performance of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell as a primarily-franchised business to deliver enhanced value to shareholders.

Micky Pant, CEO of Yum China, added:

This is an exciting time for Yum China as we approach our launch as a new, independent public company. Yum China has a leading position in the Chinese market, and we see tremendous opportunities to leverage our well-recognized brands and decades of experience to drive growth. We are all energized to achieve Yum China’s full potential and create sustained value for shareholders.

Shares of Yum Brands were trading down 1% at $89.78 on Monday, with a consensus analyst price target of $90.90 and a 52-week trading range of $64.58 to $91.99.

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