Wendy's Sells Its Stake in Arby's Owner Inspire for $450 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Wendy’s Co. has agreed to sell its stake in Arby’s backer Inspire Brands Inc., marking the latest ownership change in a rapidly shifting restaurant industry.

The fast-food burger chain is selling its 12.3 percent ownership back to Inspire Brands for $450 million, it said in a statement. The sale price represents a 38 percent premium on Wendy’s previous valuation of the investment, it said.

“The opportunity to monetize our investment in Inspire Brands will allow us to invest in future growth for the Wendy’s brand and company, which is our top priority,” said Todd Penegor, Wendy’s chief executive officer. Wendy’s will use the proceeds to increase its share repurchase program and fund growth.

Inspire was co-founded by Paul Brown of Arby’s and Neal Aronson, who started Roark Capital Group. Since Roark Capital Group bought a majority stake in Arby’s from Wendy’s in 2011, the sandwich chain has mounted a turnaround with a focus on a meat-heavy menu. Last year, Roark agreed to buy restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings for about $2.4 billion, adding it to the private equity firm’s stable of eateries.

In February, Inspire Brands named Brown as chief executive officer to oversee both brands, as well as R Taco, a fast-casual chain that focuses on street-style tacos. Atlanta-based Inspire has more than 4,600 restaurants, including 1,700 that are company owned.

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