Wendy’s Taps PepsiCo Veteran of 32 Years Kirk Tanner to be Burger Chain’s New CEO

By Jace Dela Cruz

Jan 19, 2024 01:01 AM EST

Wendy's has chosen Kirk Tanner, a PepsiCo executive of 32 years, as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective February 5. 

According to CNBC, the move is part of the burger chain's efforts to enhance its share price and alleviate pressure from activist investors. Tanner, currently Pepsi's North American beverage business, is bringing over three decades of experience to Wendy's.

His tenure with Pepsi includes three years leading the global food service division, showcasing his broad expertise in the industry.

General Views of New York
(Photo : Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 15: A general view of a Wendy's restaurant on September 15, 2022 in Farmingdale, New York, United States

New CEO of Wendy's

This leadership transition comes amid reports of activist investor Blackwells Capital gearing up to challenge Wendy's board. The appointment of a new CEO could reportedly shift the dynamics. However, it might also set the stage for a confrontation with another influential figure, Nelson Peltz, who is chair of Wendy's board.

A year ago, Peltz junked an effort by his firm, Trian Fund Management, to acquire Wendy's, indicating confidence in its performance. Trian has been a steadfast investor in Wendy's since 2005, showcasing a continued commitment to the brand.

In a press release released on Thursday, Wendy's said Kirk Tanner will succeed Todd Penegor as president and CEO. Penegor, having served in senior leadership positions at Wendy's for over a decade, will leave in February.

READ ALSO: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon Says He's Done Talking About Bitcoin After Trashing It One Last Time 

Business Experience of Kirk Tanner

Kirk Tanner's most recent position as the CEO of North American Beverages at PepsiCo involved overseeing a substantial $26+ billion business unit, contributing significantly to PepsiCo's overall revenue. His responsibilities included driving operational performance, fostering revenue growth, and successfully launching new products.

Nelson Peltz expressed enthusiasm about Tanner's appointment, emphasizing his proven operational leadership and extensive experience in growing global brands. Peltz sees Tanner as the ideal candidate to lead Wendy's into its next phase of growth and expansion.

"Kirk is a proven operational leader whose customer-centric mindset and broad experience positioning and growing some of the most well-known global brands make him the ideal candidate to lead Wendy's into its next phase of growth and expansion," Peltz said in the statement.

READ MORE: Nelson Peltz vs. Disney: Billionaire Activist Investor Seeks Multiple Board Seats as He Launches New Proxy Battle

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