Wendy’s Launching Aggressive Buyback

The fast-food company’s board okayed the installation of a repurchase program involving up to 35.4 million shares over the next year and half to two years.

Wendy’s International announced plans to return $1 billion to shareholders via an aggressive stock-buyback program and dividend disbursement. The company plans to buy the shares using existing cash on its balance sheet.

The fast-food company’s board approved the installation of a repurchase program involving up to 35.4 million shares over the next 18 to 24 months.

Wendy’s also plans to launch a modified Dutch-auction tender offer of up to $800 million. “We believe the tender offer is a wise use of the company’s financial resources and that investing in our own shares is an attractive use of capital, as we are confident that our shares currently represent a compelling value,” said Kerrii Anderson, the company’s CFO and interim chief executive officer and president.

“The tender offer will provide increased liquidity to shareholders, and it is consistent with the commitment we made to shareholders in 2005 to use the cash generated from our strategic initiatives to return value to shareholders,” she said.

Another possible motivation, however, is that Wendy’s has been in the cross-hairs of activist hedge fund manager William Ackman of Pershing Square. Last year, Ackman persuaded the company’s management to spin off its profitable Tim Hortons donut shops to shareholders.

Also on Thursday, Wendy’s said it agreed to sell its Baja Fresh chain, which The Wall Street Journal described as “struggling.”

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