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Starboard trims Darden holdings

Starboard trims Darden holdings

Activist investor reduces stake by 11 percent

Activist investor Starboard Value LP and its affiliates have reduced their stake in Darden Restaurants Inc. by about 11 percent as the entities take advantage of “significant appreciation” in Darden’s stock price, the hedge fund said Tuesday in federal filings.

Starboard led a proxy fight that ousted Darden’s 12-member board in October 2014 and made the hedge fund’s CEO, Jeffrey C. Smith, chairman.

After the share sales, the hedge fund still holds about 8.1 percent of the stock in the Orlando, Fla.-based parent to Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and other casual-dining brands.

“Starboard intends to remain a large shareholder,” the company said in its filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, “and Mr. Smith continues to serve as chairman and an active member of the issuer’s board of directors.”

Darden stock was trading slightly higher Tuesday afternoon, above $62 a share, from a close of $61.96 on Monday. In the past 52 weeks, it has traded as high as $75.60 per share and as low as $53.38 per share.

Starboard said it was selling the Darden stock “in large part to effectuate a rebalancing of Starboard’s portfolio in light of the significant appreciation in the Issuer’s stock price” over the past two years.

Since the fall, Starboard has been seeking changes at both at Internet company Yahoo! Inc. and retailer Macy’s Inc.

Earlier this week, Starboard urged Macy’s to pursue potential deals for its real estate, and since last fall has considered a board challenge at Yahoo to sell some of its Internet businesses.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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