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LOUISVILLE, KY-Buoyed by double-digit sales growth in China Yum! Brands will continue to expand internationally by about 900 units this year and next, executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call.

Yum Restaurants International will open at least 900 units this year, part of a total of 1,400 new units to open–also comprising 479 new restaurants in China. While 2010 plans are not finalized, similar expansion is in the works.

“The growth rate may go down, but absolute numbers may go up,” said CFO Richard T.Carucci. “Our development pipeline looks similar to what it looked like last year.”

International development continued at a strong pace with 267 new restaurants including 88 new units in mainland China and 165 new units in Yum! Restaurants International (YRI). Refranchising efforts in the United States continue apace, with 355 of the planned 500 units complete.

For the quarter, worldwide system sales declined 4% versus the same quarter last year after foreign currency translation. Global sales in local currency were flat year-over-year, with system sales growth of 11% in mainland China and 4% in YRI offset by a 5% decline in the United States. Yum! Brands, Inc., has more than 36,000 restaurants in over 110 countries and territories.

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