Yum Brands says Micky Pant will replace Sam Su as CEO of its China division

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NEW YORK — Yum Brands, the parent of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, is naming a new CEO of its China division as it works to reverse a sales skid in a key market.

The company said Tuesday that Micky Pant, 60, is now the CEO of its China division. He replaces longtime leader Sam Su, who is retiring. Pant has been the CEO of KFC since the beginning of 2014 and now takes over the business that Yum Brands describes as the single biggest contributor to its profits.

Yum Brands also named new CEOs of its KFC and Pizza Hut businesses in China.

Yum Brands has more than 6,800 locations in China, but the business has been damaged by bad publicity connected to poor food handling by a former supplier a year ago. In the second quarter its revenue from China fell 4 percent to $1.64 billion. Sales in China division restaurants open at least a year, a key metric of a retailer's health, slid 10 percent during the quarter. That was the fourth straight quarter of double-digit declines.

But the company says it expects those sales to improve in the second half of the year and it also forecast bigger profits.

The company says KFC is the biggest quick service restaurant chain in mainland China and Pizza Hut is the biggest casual dining chain. The company is also building restaurants in China at a rapid clip, as it opened 700 new locations in China in 2014 and expects to do the same in 2015.

Su, 63, became president of the China unit in 1997 and has been chairman and CEO for five years. Su is also the vice chairman of Yum Brands Inc. The company says he will remain on the board, and will spend six months as an executive advisor.

Roger Eaton, 55, will become CEO of KFC outside of China and India.

Yum Brands, based in Louisville, Kentucky, has around 41,000 restaurants around the world.

Shares of Yum Brands Inc. rose $1.80, or 2.1 percent, to $86 in aftermarket trading, after slipping to $84.20 during regular trading. The stock is up 17 percent over the last year.

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