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Wendy's shares surge on mystery takeover offer

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Shares of Wendy's/Arby's Group rose 7% Friday on talk that the fast food chain could be taken over.

Hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Thursday that his firm, Trian Fund Management, received an "oral inquiry" from an unnamed party about a possible acquisition of Wendy's/Arby's.

Peltz said in the filing that the hedge fund is considering the inquiry and plans to contact financial advisors about the possible transaction. Spokespeople for Wendy's/Arby's and Trian declined further comment.

Trian is Wendy's/Arby's largest shareholder. Together, Peltz and his company own more than 21% of the restaurant chain's available shares.

Shares of Wendy's/Arby's (WEN) soared nearly 11% at the opening bell Friday before giving up some of those gains as the day wore on.

A takeover of Wendy's/Arby's would be the latest deal in the fast food industry.

CKE Restaurants (CKR), which operates Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, announced in April that it is being bought by private equity firm Apollo Management LP for $694 million. CKE originally accepted a lower bid from another private equity firm, Thomas H. Lee Partners, in February.

Joscelyn MacKay, an analyst at Morningstar, said Wendy's/Arby's may now be a good fit for a private equity firm that's looking to combine the chain with other fast food restaurants.

She said restaurant chains are attractive targets since their stocks are still relatively cheap. But she predicted that more mergers in the industry are likely among the fast food companies themselves.

Along those lines, there were rumors before CKE was bought that Wendy's/Arby's was also interested in buying the company.

"Even as the economy is rebounding, some firms are struggling to improve profitability," said MacKay. "The big ones like McDonald's are doing well, but some other quick service restaurants are trying to figure out their relevance." To top of page

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