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Darden Sells Red Lobster and Prepares for Leadership Change

Multi-concept operator launches a search for a new CEO.

Darden Restaurants made news on two fronts this week. On July 28, the multi-concept operator announced the completion of its sale of Red Lobster to Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion and the resignation of Clarence Otis, chairman and chief executive officer.

Darden's board of directors appointed Charles Ledsinger, the company's current independent lead director, to serve as independent non-executive chairman of the board, effective immediately. The company also amended its corporate governance policies to provide for the separation of the chairman and chief executive officer roles.

To ensure a smooth transition, Otis will continue serving as Darden's CEO until the company appoints his successor or Dec. 31. 2014 — whichever comes first. Darden's board of directors plans to initiate a search to identify a successor to Otis. Otis joined Darden in 1995 and was appointed CEO in November 2004 and chairman of the company's board of directors in November 2005.