Activist Investor Blackwells Capital Reportedly Prepares Wendy’s Board Challenge
A battle between rival investors at another company has reportedly spilled over into the election of The Wendy’s Co. board of directors, a report by Reuters indicates.
New York-based activist hedge fund Blackwells Capital is preparing to challenge the Dublin, Ohio-based company’s board of directors in a push for improvements to the fast food chain’s financial performance, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Blackwells plans to nominate several directors to Wendy’s 12-member board, said the sources, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential deliberations.
The challenge pits Blackwells against another activist investor, Trian Fund Management, which owns a 16% stake in Wendy’s and has three representatives —Nelson Pelta, Trian CEO; Peter May, Trian president; and Matthew Peltz, Trian research co-head — serving on the burger brand’s board. Trian made overtures last year for changes at the burger chain, eventually reaching an agreement.
Reuters noted that Blackwells antagonized Trian last week over Walt Disney Co. Blackwells issued a statement on Thursday criticizing Trian for its attempted board challenge against the entertainment giant and came out in support of Disney CEO Bob Iger.
In the same statement, Blackwells said of Wendy’s that Peltz had installed his son Matthew as non-executive vice chairman and “packed the board with business partners and friends, while presiding over a period of disappointing results for Wendy’s shareholders.” It made no mention of any plans to challenge the Wendy’s board.
Blackwells declined to comment further.
“We welcome dialogue with all Wendy’s shareholders,” Nelson Peltz and Arthur Winkleblack, Wendy’s lead independent director, told Reuters. “Our board and management does not have a monopoly on good ideas. In the spirit of good corporate governance, we are more than happy to engage with any shareholder to discuss their views and, as always, we are open to adding any new board member who can add value.”
Blackwells’ stake in Wendy’s was unknown.
Blackwells, led by Jason Aintabi, made headlines last year when Aintabi pushed exercise bike maker Peloton Interactive Inc to fire its CEO John Foley and to explore a sale. Peloton replaced Foley but has not sold itself.
Wendy’s has more than 7,000 restaurants worldwide.