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Investor pushes for more say in direction of Outback’s parent

Jana Partners said it intends to put up two candidates for Bloomin’ Brands eight-person board.
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Photograph: Shutterstock

Activist investor Jana Partners is pushing for more say in the direction of Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands by nominating two candidates for election to the casual-dining giant’s eight-person board.

Jana, which holds 7.4% of Bloomin’s shares outstanding, said it has a third candidate standing by in case another seat should come into play. 

Securing more seats on the board would likely intensify Jana’s pressure on Bloomin’ to find a buyer or break into two companies. One would consist of Outback, the concern’s largest and most mature brand. The other would be composed of Bloomin’s growth concepts, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. 

"The board of directors and management have reviewed the filing and will consider the perspective Jana presented," Bloomin' said in a statement. "The company appreciates the views of all stockholders and takes all viewpoints into consideration."

Bloomin’ revealed in November, after Jana had amassed more than 9% of the restaurant company’s shares outstanding, that it was seeking strategic alternatives such as a sale. It has not revealed any details of a redirection since that time.

Jana has twice mounted efforts to force change on Bloomin’. The earlier effort was suspended in March 2018 after a Jana representative, Wendy Beck, secured a seat on the company’s board. The investment firm resumed its pressure last September.  

In a securities filing, Jana said it alerted Bloomin’ on Thursday that it intends to put forth two candidates for seats on the operator’s boards. It identified its representatives as Scott Ostfeld, a partner in Jana, and John Gainor, a retired CEO of Dairy Queen. 

The third potential candidate is Jennifer Fanjiang, chief legal officer for Jana. 

Bloomin’ is one of the largest operators of casual-dining restaurants, with about 1,450 locations worldwide. 

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