Wendy's names advisors, affirms confidence in exec team

DUBLIN Ohio Wendy's International Inc. said Tuesday it had hired two investment banking advisors, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers Inc., to aid the company during its strategic review, which could include a sale of the No. 3 burger chain.

The company also revealed the members of the review committee it formed late last month, and stated that the board had confidence in Wendy's current management team, which had been allegedly criticized in a recent letter to Wendy's from its largest institutional shareholder.

Wendy's hired JP Morgan as its lead advisor and Lehman Brothers Inc. as co-advisor, according to the company's statement, to help the company explore strategic options, which it said last month could include "changes to its capital structure, or a possible sale, merger or other business combination."

Wendy's also stated it was confident in the company's current management team, led by chief executive Kerrii B. Anderson. The Dublin-based company had reportedly received a letter last week from its 8.5-percent stakeholder Highfields Capital Management LP. According to news reports, the communication said the hiring of Anderson was a mistake and that her turnaround efforts were not up to par.

In its statement, Wendy's chairman, James V. Pickett, said "Kerrii and her team generated more than $2 billion in shareholder value in 2006 and they are executing the company's current strategic plan to revitalize the brand, improve results at every restaurant, and position Wendy's for long-term sustainable growth."

Wendy's said there was no timeframe for the company's strategic review and that it would only report developments "as circumstances warrant."

The independent board directors serving on the review committee include: Pickett; Thomas F. Keller; David P. Lauer; James F. Millar; and John R. Thompson. None of those board members are directors placed onto Wendy's board as part of the agreement made in March 2006 between activist investor Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund Management and the company.