Expected Darden CEO pick could represent major change

Expected Darden CEO pick could represent major change

Gene Lee’s operations background is change from operator’s recent deal-making strategy

Darden Restaurants Inc. and its new chairman, Jeffrey Smith, didn’t look far for its next CEO.

Gene Lee, who was named permanent CEO on Monday, was considered a likely candidate for the job almost from the day in July when Clarence Otis announced his retirement plans amid a historic proxy fight for the company. Lee was certainly a consideration in October, after a slate from activist investor Starboard Value LP won all 12 seats to the company’s board, and Lee was named interim C

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