Bob Evans Farms, Inc. (Nasdaq:BOBE) announced today that its Board of Directors has authorized the Company to pursue a strategic transaction for a select portion of its restaurant properties. The decision follows the announcement in March 2015 that the Company had retained J.P. Morgan to assist with an evaluation of strategic alternatives for the Company’s real estate.
The Company said the transaction may take the form of either a sale-leaseback or a tax-free REIT conversion and spin-off. The decision as to which path to pursue will depend on a number of factors including, but not limited to: the performance of Bob Evans’ business segments, and in particular the restaurant segment, market values for restaurant real estate, trading performance of publicly traded real estate companies, interest rates and U.S. economic conditions. The timing of a transaction remains subject to the Board’s continued evaluation of these factors, and the Company cannot guarantee if and when a transaction will be undertaken.
Chief Financial Officer Mark Hood said, “We expect to conclude the assessment of alternative paths for our restaurant real estate over the next several months. The ultimate size of any transaction will depend on the factors we have noted, but is expected to range from approximately thirty to sixty percent of currently owned restaurant real estate. Either of the forms of a transaction is expected to enable the Company to reduce its investment in lower-return assets, and we expect that in structuring a transaction we would seek to maintain our flexibility to pursue a separation of the foods and restaurant segments at some point in the future if advisable at that time. Combined with our announcement last month with respect to a sale lease-back of our headquarters building and select industrial properties, this will enable us to further enhance shareholder value through our capital deployment strategies as we continue to execute the turnaround of our businesses.”