NEW YORK, April 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Starboard Value LP (together with its affiliates, "Starboard"), one of the largest shareholders of Darden Restaurants, Inc. ("Darden" or the "Company") (NYSE: DRI), with ownership of approximately 5.5% of the outstanding common stock of the Company, issued a statement to Darden shareholders following last week's support from both Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co. (Glass Lewis). Both ISS and Glass Lewis, the two leading independent proxy voting advisory firms, are recommending that Darden shareholders CONSENT on Starboard's WHITE request card to support Starboard's solicitation to call a special meeting of Darden shareholders (the "Special Meeting"). At the Special Meeting, shareholders would be asked to consider a non-binding resolution urging the Darden Board of Directors (the "Board") not to approve any agreement or proposed transaction involving a Red Lobster separation or spin-off (the "Red Lobster Separation") prior to the 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders (the "2014 Annual Meeting") unless such agreement or transaction would require shareholder approval.
Starboard's statement to Darden shareholders:
"Over the past several months, we have detailed in numerous letters and presentations why the proposed Red Lobster Separation is the wrong spin-off, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons. We firmly believe that your support to call a Special Meeting is absolutely required since the proposed Red Lobster Separation is irreversible and may destroy substantial value, and, if left unchecked, Darden intends to complete the Red Lobster Separation prior to the 2014 Annual Meeting, when all of Darden's directors are up for election. We are extremely gratified that ISS and Glass Lewis, the two most highly-respected independent proxy advisory firms, have each recognized the importance for shareholders to have the opportunity to have their voices formally heard on the Red Lobster Separation and have each recommended that shareholders consent to Starboard's efforts to call the Special Meeting. Importantly, both ISS and Glass Lewis also recognized in their respective reports that the Red Lobster Separation, as currently conceived, threatens to irreversibly destroy shareholder value. Both ISS and Glass Lewis also discussed the prolonged and troubling underperformance of the Company under current management and the Board as an important factor that calls into question the Company's judgment in pursuing the Red Lobster Separation.