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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Activist steps up push for change at Darden Restaurants, (NYSE: DRI)

Activist investor Barington Capital Group accelerated its push for change at restaurant chain and Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants Inc on Thursday.Barington, which leads a shareholders' group that owns a stake of more than 2 percent in the chain, said it hired investment bank Houlihan Lokey to conduct an independent review of recommendations to improve Darden's financial performance.New York-based Barington has urged Darden management to break the company up and explore spinning off its real estate properties. The company, which manages eight restaurant brands, has become too large and complex to compete effectively with its rivals, Barington said.Barington recommends that Darden split into two companies -one for Olive Garden and Red Lobster, and the other for its higher-growth brands, including LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Yard House and Bahama Breeze.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. is a full service restaurant company. Shares of DRI traded higher by 1.3% or $0.69/share to $53.65. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $44.11 and as high as $55.25. On average, 1922410 shares of DRI exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 506350.