Wendy’s Promotes CFO to CEO

Kerrii Anderson moves up after serving as interim chief, as hedge-fund managers keep the fast-food giant under the microscope.

Wendy’s International has promoted former chief financial officer Kerrii Anderson to chief executive officer and president, posts she had held on an interim basis since April. “Following a national search over the past six months, we have decided that Kerrii is our best choice for CEO,” said chairman Jim Pickett in a statement. “Kerrii has demonstrated excellent leadership skills.”

Pickett credited Anderson for sparking a transformation of the company, improving its performance, developing a new strategic plan, and executing several transactions “that will continue to create value for shareholders.” During the period she served as interim chief, Wendy’s reached an agreement to sell the Baja Fresh Mexican Grill business.

Wendy’s is the second fast-food giant to tap its CFO for the top spot. In April Burger King named CFO John Chidsey to replace Greg Brenneman as chairman and chief executive officer.

Anderson joined Wendy’s in September 2000 as executive vice president and CFO, and was appointed to the board in November 2000. The company said it will begin a search for a new CFO, and will consider both internal and external candidates.

Wendy’s has been a target of two of the most influential activist hedge funds. Last year William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management persuaded Wendy’s to spin off Tim Hortons, its profitable Canadian coffee-and-doughnut-shop chain, to shareholders. This year Trian Fund Management, a hedge fund headed by former corporate raider Nelson Peltz and a major investor in Wendy’s, also has been pushing for change at the company. In April Jack Schuessler resigned as CEO under pressure from investors and after three people close to Peltz joined the board.

Investors recently lost patience with the fast-food company for not naming a permanent CEO. In fact, in a recent interview with hedge-fund magazine Alpha, Ackman stated: “If it can’t find the right person to run the business, Wendy’s will be sold. We think it’s a real franchise and can be fixed.”

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