Outback Steakhouse Owner Adds Director After Activist Pressure

  • Bloomin’ Brands puts Cruise Line executive Wendy Beck on board
  • Company has been under pressure from Jana Partners, Barington

Customers enter an Outback Steakhouse restaurant at the Queens Place Mall in Queens, New York.

Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Bloomin’ Brands Inc., the owner of Outback Steakhouse, has reached an agreement with activist investor Jana Partners to appoint a new independent director to its board.

The casual restaurant chain owner said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Chief Financial Officer Wendy Beck has joined its board, which was expanded to eight members to accommodate her appointment, according to a statement Wednesday.

“We are pleased to welcome Wendy to the Bloomin’ Brands board,” Liz Smith, the company’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “Her distinguished career in hospitality and focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences will be a valuable addition.”

As part of the agreement, Jana, the sometimes-activist fund run by Barry Rosenstein, has agreed to a customary standstill and voting terms. Beck will serve on the board until the company’s 2019 annual general meeting, the company said.

Rosenstein said Jana was encouraged by the move and the board’s commitment to improving shareholder value.

“We look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue with the company,” he said.

The New York-based Jana disclosed an 8.7 percent stake in Bloomin’ Brands in November, saying at the time it planned to push for changes at the Tampa, Florida-based company, including a potential sale.

Another activist investor, Barington Capital Group, has also taken a stake in Bloomin’ Brands. It has urged the company to explore ways to improve shareholder value, including through the separation of its smaller brands so the Outback chain can operate as a standalone entity.

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