ATLANTA-Combining their strength, but not their identities, could give Arby’s franchisor Triarc Cos., and Wendy’s International the ability to expand significantly both in the United States and overseas, executives said at a press conference discussing the merger.

Arby’s, now with 3,700 units, could expand to 5,000 restaurants, and Wendy’s, too, will see significant growth. International expansion is a particularly important opportunity, said Roland Smith, Triarc CEO. After the merger, Smith also will serve as Wendy’s CEO.”International has substantial opportunities, as both brands are underpenetrated compared with their competitors,” Smith said.

Arby’s will open 50 company-owned units this year, and franchisees will open an additional 100 units. Further out, franchisees will open 400 restaurants in the future. Plans for Wendy’s growth were not announced. Wendy’s operates more than 6,600 restaurants in the United States, Canada and international markets.

The two companies announced the merger last week, after Wendy’s had been through a year-long strategic review process. The deal, in which Wendy’s shareholders will receive 4.25 shares of Triarc Class A common stock for each Wendy’s share they own, is expected to close in the second quarter. The two chains, however, will operate autonomously.

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