Darden's shareholders have spoken, and based on the results of the preliminary vote count at the Company's 2014 Annual Meeting, all 12 Starboard-nominated directors to Darden's Board of Directors have been elected. According to a press release, with their appointment, Darden has now overturned its entire Board, placing the company's future in a number of fresh faces, which include:
“Darden's future is bright. The new Board is prepared and excited to immediately begin working alongside Darden's management team to put Darden on track for long-term value creation for all shareholders,” shared CEO Jeffrey C. Smith on behalf of the new Board. “The new Board wishes the departing directors well, and we thank them and their advisors for ensuring a smooth and seamless transition process that will allow us to immediately focus on the priorities at hand, including the selection of a transformational leader to be Darden's CEO."
The outgoing Board agreed with this optimistic assessment of Darden's future. On behalf of the rest of the former Board members, Charles A. Ledsinger Jr., former Independent Non-Executive Chairman of Darden's Board, shared his gratitude to the company and the people he had worked with during his time there.
"We are extremely grateful to Darden Restaurants' talented and dedicated management and employees who, day after day, serve our customers with distinction and are the backbone of what makes Darden the preeminent casual dining company,” he said. “We give our best wishes to the incoming directors, welcome the reconstituted Board and look forward to seeing continued progress at Darden. On behalf of the outgoing Board, it has been our privilege to serve."
"I am incredibly proud of our employees for their energy, passion and focus,” agreed President and Chief Operating Officer of Darden Gene Lee on behalf of Darden's employees. “Despite the recent distractions, our terrific employees remained focused on our priorities in the restaurants...We are grateful that there is clear resolution at the Board level and very much look forward to working with our new Board to continue to drive improvements throughout the organization."
In the wake of this decision, Darden's stock was down $0.09, or 0.18% to $49.18/share, as of 10:19am PT on October 10.