Starboard Value L.P., the activist hedge fund headed by Jeffrey Smith, disclosed in its latest regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Bradley Blum, a restaurateur and owner of a progressive restaurant company Blum Enterprises, LLC will serve as advisor in connection with its investment in Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI).
Bradley served at former president of Olive Garden and CEO of Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW). Starboard Value decided to retain the services of Bradley as advisor after their discussion regarding his unique skill set, broad experience and extensive knowledge about the restaurant industry.
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Blum and Starboard Value signed an advisor agreement on February 19, 2014. The activist investor agreed to pay Bradley an upfront fee of $50,000 in cash in consideration for the performance of certain consulting services. Bradley agreed to use the after-tax proceeds from the compensation or an equivalent amount of other funds, to acquire securities of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) no later than 10 business day after receiving the compensation, except in certain limited circumstances.
Starboard Value opposes Darden’s plan to spin off Red Lobster
Starboard Value and its affiliates own 7,250,000 shares or 5.5% stake in Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI). The activist hedge fund recently reiterated its position that the plan of restaurant operator to spin off or sell Red Lobster is not in the best interest of shareholders and it could potentially destroy substantial value.
The activist hedge fund urged the leadership of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) to step back from its plan, and warned that it is “prepared to take all steps necessary” to hold the board of directors accountable if it continues to ignore the input of its major shareholders and complete its “ill-conceived and potentially value destructive” plan to separate Red Lobster before the 2014 annual shareholders meeting.
Starboard demands changes in Wausau Paper Corp.
Separately, Starboard Value sent a letter to the board of directors of Wausau Paper Corp. (NYSE:WPP) demanding for real change. According to the activist investor, shareholders have been voicing their disappointment while management continues to miss its target and lower expectations.
Starboard Value emphasized that it is not the only shareholder that has lost patience with the unwillingness of the board of directors to hold management accountable for failed execution and prolonged underperformance of the company. The activist investor named other major shareholders such as Altai Capital Management and LionEye Capital Management that have publicly expressed their independent view about Wausau Paper Corp. (NYSE:WPP).
Altai Capital expressed that the company needs continued improvement while LionEye Capital stated that a change in the composition of the board including the addition of shareholder representation is necessary.
Starboard Value emphasized that it is open to engage in discussions with the board of Wausau Paper Corp. (NYSE:WPP) to reach a mutually agreeable resolution without the need for an election contest.