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Yum activist Keith Meister leaves board following China spinoff

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 09:07

[NEW YORK] Keith Meister, the activist investor who successfully lobbied Yum! Brands Inc. to split off its Chinese operations, is now stepping down from the fast-food giant's board.

Mr Meister, managing partner of investment firm Corvex Management LP, will be leaving his director role immediately, Yum said on Thursday.

The move caps an influential run for the investor, who began advocating for Yum's China business to be spun off in mid-2015. He argued that the operations, which contributed about half of Yum's sales, would generate more value for shareholders as an independent business.

The plan came to fruition in October of last year, when Yum China Holdings Inc became a separate entity.

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The remaining company has the potential for "higher growth and less risk," Yum CEO Greg Creed said that month. Yum also announced plans to reduce capital spending to US$100 million in fiscal 2019 from about US$500 million after the separation.

"With the China spinoff successfully executed, and Yum's capital structure, management team and transformation plans in place, the company is set up for great success," Mr Meister, 43, said in a statement Thursday. Corvex had a 5.7 per cent stake in Yum as of the end of last year and a 3.8 per cent holding in Yum China, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum, which owns the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC chains, have climbed 8.1 per cent this year.

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