updated 7/30/2007 8:15:13 PM ET 2007-07-31T00:15:13

A major shareholder who has pressured Wendy’s International Inc. to increase stock value said Monday that he is ready to offer $37 to $41 per share to buy the nation’s third-largest hamburger chain.

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Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz said his company, Triarc Cos., which owns fast-food chain Arby’s, would be a “natural, strategic buyer” for Wendy’s, according to a letter he sent to Wendy’s Chairman James Pickett that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Peltz’s price range pegs Wendy’s total value between $3.2 billion and $3.6 billion.

Wendy’s stock rose 16 cents to $33.69 in Monday’s regular trading session, then rose $3.25, or 9.6 percent, to $36.94 after-hours.

Peltz, who runs the Trian Fund, revealed in a separate filing July 3 that he and his allies had increased their stake in Wendy’s to 9.8 percent of the company’s shares, from 8.4 percent.

He said in Monday’s letter that, depending on the outcome of due diligence, Triarc would be willing to increase its offer.

Peltz set a deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday for a Wendy’s committee to respond to the offer and terms set out in a proposed confidentiality agreement. Wendy’s formed the committee in April to determine ways to boost its stock price, including a possible sale.

“If we do not receive a favorable response by then, we will wish the special committee well in its effort to conduct an auction that will generate the best transaction for all Wendy’s shareholders,” Peltz wrote. “We will, however, continue to review and evaluate our alternatives with respect to Wendy’s and will continue to contact and discuss with our shareholders our views regarding Wendy’s.”

A message was left after business hours seeking comment from Wendy’s spokesman Bob Bertini.

In the past year, Wendy’s has spun off its Tim Hortons coffee-and-doughnut chain and sold its money-losing Baja Fresh Mexican Grill following pressure from Peltz to boost the value of the company’s shares. Peltz also gained control of three seats on the company’s board last year.

Wendy’s, based in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, operates about 6,600 restaurants in the United States and abroad. It trails McDonald’s Corp. and Burger King Holdings Inc. in the burger business.

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