Darden Restaurants to split off about 430 properties into REIT; will use proceeds to pay debt

Industries Associated Press

Darden Restaurants Inc. is planning to create a real estate investment trust that will function as its own publicly traded company.

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The owner of Olive Garden and other restaurants said Tuesday that it will transfer about 430 owned restaurant properties to the REIT, with basically all of them being leased back to Darden. It currently expects to complete the REIT transaction by year's end.

The Orlando, Florida-based company is also looking at individual sale leasebacks for some other properties.

Darden anticipates retiring about $1 billion of debt after receiving proceeds from its completed plan.

Darden's not the only one seeking to extract value from real estate. Sears Holdings Corp. is planning to sell more than 250 properties to a REIT it created.