CKE Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: CKR – News) sold 29 Hardee’s restaurants as part of its ongoing strategic refranchising program announced in April 2007. To date, the company has sold 224 restaurants to franchisees and secured commitments for 105 new franchise restaurants under development agreements for those markets.

The company most recently completed the sale of 23 restaurants in Indiana and Ohio to Midwest First Star Inc. The principals of the franchisee purchasing the restaurants–Farooq Shah and Carri Simon–are new to the Hardee’s franchise system, although Simon has been a Hardee’s restaurant operator on the company side for nine years, the last two as a regional vice-president of operations. Midwest First Star Inc. has also committed to build a minimum of seven new Hardee’s restaurant locations over the next seven years in these markets.

“We are very excited to take over these 23 restaurants in the Indiana and Ohio markets,” says Farooq Shah.

The company’s president and CEO Andrew F. Puzder says, “This transaction both lowers our capital requirements and increases our free cash flow while allowing us to further concentrate on growing our core markets. We look forward to the continued growth of the Hardee’s brand.”

The company also previously completed the sale of six restaurants in the Davenport, Iowa, market to Westar Foods Inc. Westar joined the Hardee’s franchise system last year through the purchase of the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, markets. Westar has also committed to build a minimum of four new Hardee’s restaurant locations in the Davenport market over the next four and a half years. Both transactions were brokered by Franchise Resale Consultants, LLC, d/b/a Praetorian Group.

As of the end of its fiscal 2009 first quarter ended May 19, 2008, CKE Restaurants, Inc., through its subsidiaries, had a total of 3,101 franchised, licensed or company-operated restaurants in 42 states and in 13 countries, including 1,162 Carl’s Jr.® restaurants and 1,923 Hardee’s restaurants.

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