Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) today announced that its independent Inspector of Elections has certified the results of the Company’s 2014 annual meeting. Accordingly, shareholders have elected all 12 Starboard-nominated directors to Darden’s Board of Directors. They are: Betsy S. Atkins, Margaret Shan Atkins, Jean M. Birch, Bradley D. Blum, Peter A. Feld, James P. Fogarty, Cynthia T. Jamison, William H. Lenehan, Lionel L. Nowell, III, Jeffrey C. Smith, Charles M. Sonsteby, and Alan N. Stillman.
The Company’s new Board has appointed Jeffrey C. Smith as Independent Non-Executive Chairman of the Board. The Board also appointed Gene Lee, previously President and Chief Operating Officer, as interim Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Lee succeeds Clarence Otis, who has stepped down from his role as CEO, effective immediately.
Mr. Smith said, “The new Board and I have appreciated the energy and attitude from within the organization. Gene has proven to be an outstanding leader at Darden, and we are excited to work closely with him as our interim Chief Executive Officer. The Board’s Search Committee will conduct a full search for the next CEO of Darden, which will include both internal and external candidates.”
Commenting on the appointment, Mr. Lee said, “I am thrilled with the opportunity provided by the Board to lead the Company and our 150,000 employees as we accelerate the progress at all of our brands. Our teams are energized and looking with optimism at the opportunities ahead. Everyone at Darden is focused on delivering an outstanding experience to every guest, every time, and with that level of commitment, our company will succeed.”
Darden today also announced the appointment of the Board’s committee chairs, effective immediately:
- Cynthia T. Jamison: Audit Committee
- Jeffrey C. Smith: CEO Search Committee
- James P. Fogarty: Compensation Committee
- William H. Lenehan: Finance and Real Estate Committee
- Betsy S. Atkins: Nominating and Governance Committee
Darden Restaurants owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants that generate approximately $6.3 billion in annual sales. Darden brands include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House.