Friday, April 27, 2007

Breeden Gets Seats at Applebee’s Table

Richard Breeden, the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, recently called Applebee’s International a “study in stagnation.” But life at the restaurant chain is bound to get livelier now that Mr. Breeden, who is head of activist investment firm Breeden Capital Management, and one of his allies have been named to the Applebee’s board. The appointments, announced Thursday, settle a proxy fight that was brewing ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 25.
The settlement marked a victory for Mr. Breeden, who calls himself a “active shareholder” or a “relational investor,” albeit not a complete one: He had previously been gunning for four seats on the board.
In sharp contrast to the combative tone Mr. Breeden has sometimes taken with Applebee’s — among other things, he has caustically criticized the company’s use of its corporate jet — Mr. Breeden said in a statement Thursday that he is “convinced that as a group we can provide the leadership to help make Applebee’s better, stronger and more valuable for the benefit of all.”
Applebee’s also said Thursday that it had gotten several “nonbinding, preliminary proposals” to buy the company and was proceeding to a second round of due-diligence discussions. Shares of Applebee’s rose 4 percent following Thursday’s announcements.
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