financial regulation
Obama nominates pair for SEC panel

President Obama on Tuesday nominated Lisa M. Fairfax, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, and Hester Peirce, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and critic of financial reform, to serve as members of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fairfax and Peirce would fill seats at the five-member SEC, which is chaired by Mary Jo White. One seat, left by departing Republican Daniel Gallagher, is vacant, and the term of one of the four current members, Democrat Luis A. Aguilar, expires this year.

Fairfax, a corporate governance expert, has experience in securities industry enforcement from her service on the review council of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a private corporation that acts as a self-regulator for the industry.

If confirmed, she would become only the third African American commissioner out of 99 confirmed commissioners in the SEC’s history.

Peirce is a well-known critic of the government’s Wall Street bailout and the legislation that expanded regulatory requirements after the financial crisis. Her former boss, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), has pushed the administration to nominate her.

Before working in the Senate, Peirce spent eight years as an SEC staff attorney in the investment management division and as counsel to former commissioner Paul Atkins. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University and has a law degree from Yale University.

Fairfax is director of programs at GWU’s center for law, economics and finance and earlier spent nine years teaching at the University of Maryland’s law school. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, she also spent five years as an associate at the law firm Ropes & Gray.

— Steven Mufson

Yum Brands to spin off China business

The owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell plans to spin off its China business into a separate, publicly traded company.

Earlier this month, the Louisville-based company cut its profit outlook for the year, citing a slower-than-expected comeback for its China division. In the latest quarter, Yum Brands reported that sales in China rose just 2 percent at established locations.

Yum has been trying to win back customers after negative publicity stemming from food supply controversies. The company has said that part of the difficulties in China are because of a mix of external factors, such as the Chinese economy, as well as internal issues, such as the marketing for Pizza Hut.

The announcement of the planned split comes five days after Yum Brands named activist investor Keith Meister to its board. Meister is founder and managing partner of Corvex Management, one of Yum’s largest shareholders .

Yum Brands said Tuesday that it believes the China business, which will be called Yum China after the separation, could grow from its current 6,900 restaurants to more than 20,000 restaurants in the future. The China business, which will be headquartered in Shanghai, had $6.9 billion in revenue last year. Yum China will be Yum Brands’ biggest franchisee.

Yum Brands has more than 41,000 restaurants globally. Yum had $6.3 billion in annual revenue in 2014, excluding China. The separation of the businesses is expected to be complete by the end of next year and needs final approval from the Yum Brands’ board.

— Associated Press

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