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Well known investment giants BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, and Wells Fargo among top shareholders in Wendy’s universe… and key stops on the Follow the Money March!

Willie Sutton, the famous, oft-convicted bank robber of the early 20th century, was once asked why he continued to rob banks.

His reply? "Because that's where the money is."

While the motivation behind next month's major mobilization in New York is certainly not the same as Willie Sutton's, the rationale is. We are marching on Trian Partners, and on several other key banks and investment funds behind the fast-food company Wendy’s, precisely because that’s where the money is.  

And, when it comes to decision-making at the billion dollar hamburger giant, it seems — more than any other company in the fast-food firmament — that’s where the power is, too. 

So today, we wanted to introduce you to some of the key actors in Wendy’s world, the massive investment firms and Wall Street players whose money gives them the loudest voices in the room when the big decisions are made — like when it’s time to decide whether or not to join the universally-acclaimed gold standard for social responsibility in agriculture today, the Fair Food Program.  We begin with Trian, the loudest of all the voices, but we don’t stop there, as we “Follow the Money” wherever it leads.

Trian Partners

Only Nelson Peltz and his partners at Trian truly know the full extent of the hedge fund billionaire’s influence over the hamburger giant, the final fast-food holdout from the Fair Food Program.  But one thing is clear: The outsized role of the “activist investor” Peltz and his partners within the decision-making structures at Wendy’s sets the company apart from its competitors in the fast-food industry.  In the words of Derek Seidman of the online journal Truthout:

Trian is the top owner of Wendy’s and dominates Wendy’s board of directors. Peltz is Wendy’s chairman, Trian President and Founding Partner Peter May is vice chairman, and Peltz’s son Matthew is a director. Others on the board also have close tiesto Trian.

And when a shareholder as dominant as Trian insinuates itself into the corporate structure as deeply, and widely, as Trian has in Wendy’s, the decision-making process is necessarily altered, and not always for the best.  Indeed, despite nearly twenty years of the Campaign for Fair Food, ten years of the Fair Food Program, and four years of a growing consumer boycott, Wendy’s stands alone among fast-food industry leaders in refusing to join the award-winning social responsibility program.  It is only reasonable to conclude that the exceptional power of Trian Partners within Wendy’s is the reason.

Immokalee farmworkers, Fair Food allies outside the office of Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz in New York City

This analysis has led us to Trian’s doorstep many a time over the past several years, most notably when 100 farmworkers and their consumer allies held a five-day fast on the sidewalk outside Trian’s Park Avenue offices.  Thus far, the voices of Immokalee farmworkers and hundreds of thousands of consumers across the country calling on Trian have not been enough, however, to move Wendy’s to do the right thing.

But Trian is not alone among key Wendy’s shareholders.  And Trian itself has other institutional investors that, as the hedge fund’s clients, are essential to its own profits, and power.  And so we follow the money to…

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