Darden Restaurants says it will sell its Red Lobster seafood chain to private equity firm Golden Gate Capital in a deal worth $2.1 billion. The announcement of the deal comes despite warnings from activist investors, such as Starboard Value and Barington Capital, that a sale would damage shareholder value. Despite several quarters of falling same-restaurant sales, the chain still contributes 31% to Darden's total annual revenue. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015. Darden will get net proceeds of $1.6 billion which the company says will be used to pay back debt and finance share buybacks.
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