Pepsi Says It Will Sue Coke Over Wendy’s Deal
NEW YORK (AP) _ Pepsi-Cola Co. said late Wednesday it planned to sue Coca-Cola Co. over the recent decision by Wendy’s International Inc. to change from Pepsi products to Coca-Cola products in its company-owned restaurants.
In a news release from its Purchase, N.Y. headquarters, Pepsi alleged that Coke recruited Pepsi-Cola executives ″who had intimate knowledge of its contract and programs with Wendy’s.″ It also charged that the company induced the fast-food chain to break its contract with Pepsi.
″Willfully tampering with a contract and pirating employees to gain confidential information are practices that we simply cannot tolerate,″ John Cranor, president of Pepsi-Cola’s food-service division, said in the news release.
Pepsi-Cola did not state when the lawsuit would be filed. Company officials could not be reached for further comment.
Pepsi stated that the pending lawsuit stemmed from the joint announcement by Coca-Cola and Wendy’s that the restaurant chain was dropping Pepsi.
At the time, Wendy’s officials said the push into the restaurant business by Pepsi’s parent PepsiCo Inc., which earlier this year bought the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain of 6,500 restaurants, had made the soft drink giant a competitor.
Pepsi-Cola stated that less than a year ago Wendy’s awarded it a five-year contract extending through 1990.
The suit will allege Coca-Cola illegally interfered in the contractual relationship between Pepsi-Cola and Wendy’s. The suit will ask the court to hold Wendy’s to the contract or award unspecified damages caused by the alleged breach of contract.
No spokespeople for Coca-Cola were available immediately to comment on the announcement.
A security supvervisor answering the telephone at Wendy’s Dublin, Ohio, headquarters said no spokespeople were available Wednesday night.
Coca-Cola is the nation’s largest soft drink maker, while Pepsi is No. 2.
Wendy’s is the third-largest U.S. hamburger chain after McDonald’s and Burger King.
Pepsi-Cola has supplied Wendy’s since the chain was established in 1969, the company said.