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Outback co-founder leaves Bloomin’ Brands

Chris Sullivan, who helped start the steakhouse, resigns from parent company’s board.

Chris Sullivan, who helped start Outback Steakhouse in the late 1980s, resigned from the board at parent company Bloomin’ Brands last week—ending Sullivan’s long association with the Tampa, Fla.-based company.

The departure was revealed in a federal securities filing on Monday. Bloomin’ Brands in the filing said it would reduce the size of its board from eight members to seven.

The resignation comes at a time when Bloomin’ faces a potential challenge from the activist investor Jana Partners, which revealed a 9% stake in the company last month and suggested it could push for a sale of all or part of the casual-dining operator.

Sullivan founded Outback in 1988 with Bob Basham, Tim Gannon and Trudy Cooper. Sullivan was CEO of Bloomin’s predecessor, OSI Restaurant Partners Inc., between 1991, when the company went public, and 2005. He has been a director ever since.

OSI was sold in 2007 to the private-equity firm Bain Capital Partners and went public again five years later as Bloomin’ Brands.

In recent years, Sullivan has been more focused on investing. In 2015, for instance, he invested $2.2 million in the site selection technology company SiteZeus.

In addition to Outback, Bloomin’ operates Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. Together, the brands operate nearly 1,500 locations.

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