Bob Evans Investor Says Private Equity Wants to Buy Unit

Bob Evans Farms Inc. investor Sandell Asset Management Corp. said a private-equity firm is interested in buying the company’s sausage- and side-dish-making business.

Sandell, which owns about 9.2 percent of Bob Evans, making it the second-largest shareholder, made the announcement in a filing today and didn’t name the private-equity firm. Several investments firms are also interested in Bob Evans’ real estate assets, New York-based Sandell said.

Bob Evans, which has about 560 restaurants and sells packaged foods in grocery stores, has been under pressure from Sandell in the past year to spin off its food-making business, sell real estate and buy back shares -- moves that would return cash to shareholders. Bob Evans’ property and buildings may be worth more than $900 million, Sandell has said.

Scott Taggart, a spokesman for New Albany, Ohio-based Bob Evans, declined to comment on today’s filing.

The shares rose 3.5 percent to $47.53 at the close in New York. They have lost 6 percent this year.

In August, Bob Evans said four of Sandell’s board nominees were elected as directors, one fewer than the hedge fund said had been chosen earlier. Eight incumbent nominees also were elected, Bob Evans said, giving the company control of two-thirds of its board.

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