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Activist investor takes 9 percent stake in Outback Steakhouse owner, Bloomin’ Brands

After Jana Partners increased its stake, stock share prices spiked at the restaurant company.
A new Outback Steakhouse at 4302 W. Boy Scout Blvd. near International Plaza and Bay Street. Outback's parent company, Bloomin' Brands, is currently facing pressures from an activist investor that once told the company to explore a sale.
A new Outback Steakhouse at 4302 W. Boy Scout Blvd. near International Plaza and Bay Street. Outback's parent company, Bloomin' Brands, is currently facing pressures from an activist investor that once told the company to explore a sale. [ BY MONIQUE WELCH | Monique Welch ]
Published Sep. 4, 2019
Updated Sep. 4, 2019

TAMPA — The same activist investor who pushed the owners of Outback Steakhouse to explore a sale have purchased another large share of the restaurant company.

Jana Partners, LLC, a New York hedge fund, now holds about a 9 percent stake in Bloomin’ Brands. The hedge fund purchased $127.7 million worth of shares between July 9 and Aug. 30, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission made on Friday.

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Now Jana owns about 7.9 million shares. This is the second time in two years that Jana has made such a move to put pressure on the Tampa restaurant company.

“We appreciate the views of stockholders and will consider all perspectives shared with us," Bloomin’ said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times.

The recent filing by Jana says shares are “undervalued” and “represent an attractive investment opportunity.” The filing also says the hedge fund expects to have to have discussions with management and asserts it has the right to propose new directors for the Bloomin’ Brand’s board.

The firm and its principal owner, Barry Rosenstein, had previously pressured Bloomin’ to explore a sale and then agreed, instead, to the addition of an independent member to its board of directors last year. Investors also wanted the company to look into separating out the more profitable portions of the business, such as spinning off Outback into its own company.

Since a filing about the share purchases went public on Friday, Bloomin’s stocks have hit the highest they’ve been since early July. Stock prices closed at $18.67 per share on Wednesday.

Bloomin’ closed out its second quarter in July posting revenue of $1.02 billion. Sales across all its brands in the U.S. — Outback, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Bonefish Grill — posted an average of 0.6 percent increase in sales last quarter.