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Barbarians in the Boardroom by Owen Walker

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Part 2

The battles

3

Boardroom coup at Darden Restaurants

Too many breadsticks

On the morning of 12 September 2014, the midtown Manhattan offices of Starboard Value were in a state of mild panic. Distressed strangers from all over the US were flooding the inboxes of the activist hedge fund’s 18 employees with angry emails. Starboard was at the centre of a national debate that it had unwittingly started.

The day before, the hedge fund had made public a damning 294-page white paper, setting out its views on how it would turn around America’s largest middle-market restaurant company, Darden Restaurants. The presentation was as thorough in its analysis as it was clinical in its criticism. Central to the argument was that Darden was failing due to ...

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