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Darden Plans to Split Off Red Lobster Restaurant Chain

Darden Restaurants Inc., owner of the Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse chains, plans to separate its Red Lobster business, halt acquisitions and cut expenses as restaurant sales lose momentum.

Darden, based in Orlando, Florida, said today in a statement that while it expects to execute a tax-free spinoff of Red Lobster to shareholders, the company also may consider selling the business. Sales at Red Lobster, a seafood chain with 705 locations in the U.S. and Canada, fell 1.9 percent to $2.62 billion in the year through May 26.