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April 22, 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, announced today that it has delivered by letter to Darden written requests from the holders of more than 55% of the Company's outstanding common stock to call a special meeting of shareholders (the "Special Meeting"). At the Special Meeting, Starboard will present a non-binding resolution urging the Board of Directors of Darden (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.
Jeffrey C. Smith, Managing Member, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Starboard Value LP, stated, "We are pleased that more than 55% of Darden's outstanding shares have consented to call the Special Meeting ahead of the
April 24th goal date. We have met the required threshold needed to call the Special Meeting. We understand that by delivering the consents ahead of the goal date, certain shareholders may not yet have had the chance to consent. However, we have chosen to deliver the consents to Darden now in order to ensure that the Special Meeting is held as soon as possible and that Darden receives the strong and clear message that shareholders want a say on any transaction to separate Red Lobster."
Added Smith, "Over the past several months, we have detailed in numerous letters and presentations why we believe the proposed Red Lobster Separation is the wrong spin-off, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons. We are proud of the strong support from our fellow shareholders during the solicitation process and recognize that shareholders have taken action to demand that their voices be heard at a Special Meeting. Shareholders fully deserve the opportunity that a Special Meeting will provide to allow for a fulsome debate as to the merit, or lack thereof, of a potential Red Lobster Separation. This show of support from a majority of the Company's shareholders is powerful - the Board should make sure that it begins to listen to the true owners of the Company. We believe it is incumbent upon the current Board to embrace the clear will of Darden shareholders and promptly schedule the Special Meeting so that shareholders can express their views on the Red Lobster Separation through an open and transparent process. We are hopeful that Darden will take a step back and do the right thing by not seeking to complete any Red Lobster Separation prior to the Special Meeting."