Pistons Star Chauncey Billups, Junior Bridgeman Investing in Wendy's Restaurants

Former NBA great Junior Bridgeman (left) and Detroit Pistons' Chauncey Billups visit a Wendy's in Ballwin, Mo., one of 30 restaurants in the St. Louis area purchased from The Wendy's Company. PRNewsFoto/The Wendy's Company.

Former NBA great Junior Bridgeman, a partner in BB St. Louis LLC and the second-largest franchisee of Wendy's (NASDAQ: WEN  ) restaurants, and five-time NBA All-Star Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons have reached an agreement with the fast-food chain to purchase 30 restaurants in the St. Louis area, Wendy's announced today.

According to Wendy's President and CEO Emil Brolick, the deal is "an important part of the Company's ongoing brand transformation -- which includes reimaging and developing new restaurants, a new Wendy's logo, innovative products and bold new packaging." Wendy's is also in the midst of an initiative to concentrate ownership of its restaurants geographically, and plans to sell an estimated 425 restaurants to franchisees by Q2 of 2014. This fattens profit margins by reducing operating costs and letting the company instead rely on fees paid by franchisees. The planned sales will reduce its ownership to 15% of its locations from 22%.

Commenting on the partnership that involves BBC St. Louis LLC the NBA players, Brolick said "We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Junior Bridgeman, and he is an exceptional person, an excellent operator and very committed to building a 'people' culture. In addition, we are eager to welcome Chauncey to the Wendy's family."

Including this transaction Bridgeman owns, either partially or outright, 196 Wendy's restaurants. The deal is the first foray into the restaurant business for Billups.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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