Yum Brands Acquires Little Sheep Hotpot Chain


YUM Brands Inc said yesterday that it has completed its purchase of China's hotpot restaurant chain, Little Sheep Group Co, in a move to expand its presence in the China market.

Little Sheep with 467 outlets across the country will be delisted from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange tomorrow and become an affiliate of Yum, the US catering giant said.

After acquiring Little Sheep, Yum will take over the management of its operation in China and name Xi Ziying, an former regional manager of KFC China, to be the brand manager.

Xi will replace Lu Wenbing, former president of Little Sheep.

Yum, based in Louisville, USA, bought a 20 percent stake of Little Sheep in 2009 and increased its holdings to 27.2 percent in 2010.

Last May Yum offered HK$6.5 per share in cash to gain 93.2 percent of Little Sheep. The deal was approved by the government in November after an anti-monopoly review.

Yum, which facing stiff competition from McDonald's and other fast food chains, has relied on localization to maintain its growth in China where rising living standard and changing diet have fed a boom in the fast food industry.

Yum runs nearly 3,500 KFC restaurants and 560 Pizza Hut outlets in China while McDonald's owns 1,400 restaurants and plans to have 2,000 by 2013.

Sam Su, chairman and CEO of Yum! Restaurants China and vice chairman of Yum! Brands, said the acquisition marks an important expansion for Yum in China.

"We expect Yum's affiliated brands including KFC, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, East Dawning and Little Sheep would continue to grow stronger and be a market leader in their segments."

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