Business & Finance

Wendy's International, the US fast-food chain, said it will sell 400 company-owned restaurants to franchisees, close up to 60 underperforming locations, and spin off its Tim Horton's subsidiary, the Canadian coffee/doughnuts leader it acquired 10 years ago. The announcement, made late last week at Wendy's headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, is expected to produce a cash infusion for the hamburger business, whose sales have been sluggish. An initial public offering for up to 18 percent of its Tim Horton's holdings could raise as much as $900 million and pave the way for buying back $1 billion worth of Wendy's shares. "We really believe the two brands are moving apart," said chief executive Jack Schuessler. Wendy's is adding breakfast items to its menu, whereas Tim Horton's is moving toward more lunch offerings - meaning they could become competitors. The latter has outlets from coast to coast in Canada and in 10 states, most of them across the northern US.

For the second time in less than a week, majority stockholders in Spanish telecommunications giant Grupo Auna agreed to sell off a chunk of the company, its land-line phone and cable-TV unit. The buyer, Grupo Ono SA, will pay $2.7 billion for the assets, making it more competitive with former monopoly Telefónica SA, especially in major markets such as Madrid and Barcelona. Earlier, Auna sold its cellphone service unit, Amena, to France Telecom for $7.7 billion.

Fidelity Investments, the financial services giant based in Boston, announced it will add at least 1,000 new jobs by 2008 as it expands operations in Smithfield, R.I. The Smithfield site is attractive, the company said late last week, because of newly enacted tax breaks in Rhode Island for higher-income employees.

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