Olive Garden owner Darden names board member Bill Lenehan as CEO of REIT spinoff

Darden board member Bill Lenehan was named Monday as the head the real estate investment trust that the restaurant operator plans to spin off later this year.

The owner of Olive Garden and a number of other chains said in June that it would break off 420 restaurants into a REIT. The new company, called Four Corners Property Trust Inc., will be publicly traded and will lease properties back to Darden Restaurants Inc.

A number of companies in the restaurant and retail sectors have begun cashing in on extensive property holdings as a way to generate cash.

In April, Sears struck three real estate deals which included a $150 million infusion from a joint venture with mall operator Macerich Co. The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. announced an $84 million deal to sell a handful of locations and lease them back through a REIT. Hudson's Bay Co., the parent of Saks Fifth Avenue, has formed a joint venture with Simon Property Group Inc. for about 42 stores.

Activist investment firm Starboard Value is pushing Macy's to do the same.

Lenehan, who has a history in real estate, will resign from Darden's board.

The Orlando, Florida, company also operates the LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze and The Capital Grille restaurants. Its shares slipped 3 cents to $72.34 in morning trading Monday.