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Wendy's refinances debt to lower expenses

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Wendy's Co. said Wednesday it is refinancing some debt in an effort to pay lower annual interest expense.

The moves will save $19 million in yearly interest expenses and add to the $30 million in net expense savings the company reaped by refinancing in 2012.

CFO Steve Hare said the moves will benefit cash flow and earnings per share and give the company flexibility for growth opportunities and "shareholder-enhancing initiatives. "

Wendy's, based in Dublin, Ohio, has embarked on a plan to remodel about 20 percent of its U.S. locations to look more upscale, including adding more comfortable seating areas and flat-screen TVs.

The company's push to reinvent itself comes as consumers are increasingly eating at fast-casual chains such as Panera Bread Co., which offers food that's perceived to be higher quality for slightly higher prices. A better image could give Wendy's more wiggle room to raise prices without scaring off customers.

The moves include refinancing $350 million of a $1.12 billion term loan, extending the maturity on a $200 million revolving credit facility by one year, and repricing another loan with a balance of $769 million by reducing its interest rate margin.

Shares closed the trading day down 19 cents at $5.35.