New-York based hedge fund Barington Capital Group reportedly takes stake in Darden Restaurants, will press to break up company

CHICAGO , October 9, 2013 () – Darden Restaurants Inc., owner of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster dining chains, rose the most in more than four years after the Wall Street Journal reported that Barington Capital Group LP took a stake in the company and will press it to break up.

The shares surged 7.4 percent to $49.69 at 2:18 p.m. in New York and earlier climbed as much as 11 percent for the biggest intraday gain since March 2009. Darden, based in Orlando, Florida, advanced 2.7 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 16 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Barington, a New York-based hedge fund, plans to press Darden to split into two companies: one with its high-growth chains such as Capital Grille and the other with established brands Red Lobster and Olive Garden, the Journal reported today. The investor also is urging the company to cut costs faster, the newspaper reported.

Darden has spoken with Barington and will evaluate its suggestions, just as it does for all shareholders, Rich Jeffers, a spokesman for the restaurant chain, said today in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News.

--With assistance from Clyde Eltzroth in New York. Editors: Kevin Orland, Niamh Ring

To contact the reporter on this story: Leslie Patton in Chicago at lpatton5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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