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Franchisee Carlisle eyes Wendy’s purchase

MEMPHIS Tenn. Carlisle Corp., a nearly 100-unit Wendy’s franchisee based in Memphis, has become the fourth entity to express interest in acquiring the Dublin, Ohio-based burger brand. The Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch on Wednesday quoted Gene Carlisle as indicating he might team with an unidentified equity firm to make a bid because the wrong buyer could harm Wendy’s through cost cutting.

However, he said a purchaser who paid "today's price" for Wendy's would be "paying a premium to performance." Based on current performance Wendy's would be worth about $2.5 billion, Carlisle said, adding that half the chain's nearly 6,700 restaurants would need to be "massively renovated or replaced" in the next five years at costs ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million each.

Only Arby's parent Triarc Cos. previously had been connected with a proposed price for Wendy's, as much as $3.6 billion. The 134-unit Wendy's franchisee Cedar Enterprises of Columbus recently expressed interest in acquiring the chain, as did a consortium of four investment firms. That group includes Fidelity National Financial, a title insurance and investment concern led by William Foley, a former chairman and CEO of CKE Restaurants; Thomas H. Lee Partners LP; Oaktree Capital Management LP; and Ares Management LLC. Thomas H. Lee Partners previously participated in the acquisitions of Dunkin' Brands and Aramark.

Carlisle, which is developing the $175 million One Beale mixed-use project in Memphis, operates Wendy's units in Mississippi, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas.

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