Fact check: Yum! Brands, based in Kentucky, owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC in the US

The claim: China owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut

A viral Facebook post claims that China now owns a handful of well-known American fast food restaurants, including Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC.

The Feb. 25 Facebook post, which has been shared more than 300 times, reads “Am I the only person that didn’t know that CHINA owns KFC, TACO BELL and PIZZA HUT??”

In the comments section, some users disagreed with the original post’s claims, while others mentioned further concerns about China’s financial involvement in the U.S. 

USA TODAY has reached out to the poster for comment.

Who owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut?

Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut are owned by Yum! Brands Inc., which is based in Louisville, Kentucky. The company owns 50,000 restaurants, primarily the aforementioned brands, in more than 150 countries and territories. 

In 2016, the company spun off its China business — which appears to be what the Facebook post is referencing — making it an independent and publicly traded company.

The CEO of Yum! Brands is David Gibbs. Yum China is led by Joey Wat. 

Yum China is a separate company from Yum! Brands, and according to the company’s website, has “the exclusive rights to operate and sub-license the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands in China.”

Our ruling: False

The claim in the post has been rated FALSE. Yum! Brands, based in Louisville, Kentucky, owns and operates Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC restaurants in the United States. Yum China operates fast-food subsidiaries in China. Following a 2016 spin-off, they are two separate companies.

Our fact check sources:

  • Yum! Brands, Company
  • USA TODAY, Oct. 20, 2015, “Yum Brands to spin off struggling China business”
  • Forbes, Nov. 1, 2016, “Yum! Brands Spins Off China Unit In New York Amid Losses In Market Share”
  • Yum! Brands, “Senior Officers and Leadership Team”
  • Yum China, “Senior Officers”
  • Yum China, Oct. 5, 2017, “Yum China Announces CEO Succession Plan”Yum China, “About Yum China”

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