Investor takes over Darden board
Some changes could be in store for Olive Garden, including how the restaurant chain prepares its soups and pasta.
An activist investor on Friday succeeded in its bid to take control of the board of Olive Garden's parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc. Starboard Value's nominees were elected to fill all 12 of Darden's board seats, according to preliminary voting results.
The unusual handover in control comes as Darden has been struggling to turn around Olive Garden's declining sales with new marketing and menu items, including "small plates" like crispy risotto balls. Earlier this year, the company completed its sale of Red Lobster — despite objections from Starboard and other shareholders — saying it wanted to focus on fixing the Italian-themed chain.
At the meeting in Florida, Starboard CEO Jeff Smith stood to introduce himself and the new board members before voting results had been announced. Smith noted Starboard has already begun "to work with the management team to ensure a seamless transition."