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Barington Capital urges Darden to split company: WSJ

(Reuters) - Hedge fund Barington Capital Group LP is pushing for Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants Inc to split into two separate companies, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

New York-based Barington has taken a 2.8 percent stake in Darden, the Journal said. (http://link.reuters.com/fac73v)

Shares of the Orlando-based company, which also owns the Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse chains, were up 7 percent in late afternoon trading.

Barington Capital could not immediately be reached for comment.

A Darden spokesman acknowledged in an email that the company had spoken to Barington, but did not provide further detail.

"While it's the company's policy not to comment on specific discussions with shareholders, (it) has had dialogue with Barington Capital, and the board will take the time necessary to thoroughly evaluate Barington's suggestions," the statement read.

Darden reported dismal quarterly results in September as Olive Garden and Red Lobster turned in their weakest sales at established restaurants in more than three years.

(Reporting by Aditi Shrivastava in Bangalore; Editing by Anthony Kurian)

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