Yum Brands Inc, owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, said it expects to return as much as US$13.5 billion to shareholders by 2019 after the separation of its China unit.

Yum Brands' shares were up 1.2 per cent at $88.45 before the bell on Tuesday.

The company said it would increase franchise restaurant ownership to 93 per cent, from 77 per cent now, when the China business is spun off on Oct. 31. The company aims to be least 98 per cent franchised by the end of 2018.

Yum said it had bought back $5.2 billion of shares as a part of its previously announced capital return program of $6.2 billion, reducing its share count by about 16 per cent.

The company also said it would reduce capital expenditure to about $100 million in 2019, from about $500 million in 2015.

Yum last week reported its first same-store sales drop in five quarters in China, blaming anti-U.S. protests after an international court rejected China's claim to historic rights in the South China Sea.

Yum's China business will begin trading on Nov. 1 on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol YUMC.