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Outback’s parent strikes a truce with investor Jana Partners

Candidates supported by Jana will stand election for two of Bloomin’ Brands 10 board seats.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The parent of Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill is expanding its board of directors by two seats under a new peace agreement with activist investor Jana Partners.

Jana said it would support the election of the directors, which will expand the board of Bloomin’ Brands to 10 seats. One of the nominees is John Gainor, former CEO of International Dairy Queen and a longtime director of Jack in the Box.

The other is likely to be Jana partner Scott Ostfeld, Bloomin’ and Jana said. But the parties left open the possibility of a mutually acceptable person” as an alternative.

The agreement is the latest in a series of truces struck by Bloomin’ and Jana over the casual-dining operator’s direction and leadership. Jana, which holds about a 9.2% stake in Bloomin’, has repeatedly pushed the company to break into two entities, one consisting of Outback and the other composed of younger brands with more expansion opportunities, such as Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

In February, before the coronavirus pandemic had festered into a crisis within the United States, Jana said it would put forth candidates for two of what were then eight seats on Bloomin’s board.

“We expect these director additions will enhance the board’s ongoing efforts to create shareholder value by growing the business and advancing key initiatives such as off premise and delivery, improving the cost structure, allocating capital to maximize returns, and evaluating all options to maximize shareholder value,” said Jim Craigie, the former CEO of Church & Dwight who serves as board chairman.

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