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Cracker Barrel rejects shareholder request for sale

BY Dan Berthiaume

Lebanon, Tenn. — Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc has considered and rejected a recent filing and statement from top shareholder Sardar Biglari demanding that the company commence a sale process. Cracker Barrel has determined that the continued execution of the company’s existing business strategy is currently the proper course of action for the long-term best interests of the company and its shareholders.

Through Biglari Holdings, Biglari owns 19.9% of Cracker Barrel. He has previously said the company’ earning power is too low and on Dec. 24 said he is in discussions with an investment bank to finance a buyout bid.

“We are disappointed that Mr. Biglari is seeking to call a special meeting to vote on a proposal requesting that the company commence a sale process, particularly in light of his defeat by substantial margins in three consecutive proxy contests,” said James W. Bradford, chairman of the board of Cracker Barrel. “Cracker Barrel’s board of directors continues to believe that the execution of management’s existing business strategy will create the most value for all shareholders. The board regularly evaluates all options to serve the best interests of the Company and its shareholders and will continue to do so.”

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SnackWell’s finds new home with Brynwood

BY CSA STAFF

Mondelez Global sold its SnackWell’s brand cookie and snacks business to the Back to Nature Foods Company, a joint venture between Brynwood Partners VI and Mondelez.

Brynwood VI and Mondelez Global formed the Back to Nature joint venture in 2012 through a structure whereby Brynwood VI acquired operating control and Mondelez Global retained a minority position in the new company.

"We look forward to owning the SnackWell’s brand and integrating it into our Back to Nature organization," said Vincent Fantegrossi, president and CEO of Back to Nature. “Its healthy attributes, loyal consumer base, and strong distribution make SnackWell’s a very complementary product line offering to our Back to Nature products. SnackWell’s is an iconic brand and we are excited about the potential that this acquisition brings to our company. SnackWell’s significantly increases our scale in the important cookie and cracker categories."

Brynwood, founded in 1984, is an operationally-focused private equity fund that makes control investments in North American based lower middle market companies in the consumer sector. With the acquisition of SnackWell’s, Brynwood Partners has now acquired 39 corporate brands from 15 different sellers. The SnackWell’s transaction marks the firm’s second deal with Mondelez Global in addition to two others with Kraft Foods, the predecessor company of Mondelez Global.

Some of Brynwood Partners other investments have included brands such as Zest brand soap, Turtle chocolate, TrueNorth nut clusters,Salted Nut Roll, Bit-O-Hoeny, Lightlife meat alternative and Balance Bar

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IHOP enters Saudi Arabia

BY Dan Berthiaume

Glendale, Calif. — DineEquity, Inc., parent company of IHOP Restaurants, has opened the first IHOP restaurant in Saudi Arabia. The restaurant, located in “Le Mall,” is part of a seven-brand restaurant destination in Jeddah, which opened Dec. 14.

The opening represents the fifth restaurant for the IHOP brand in the region since 2012 under its multi-franchise agreement with M.H. Alshaya Co., an international franchise operator which has opened IHOP locations in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The agreement between Alshaya and IHOP Franchise Company, LLC, allows for the development of 40 restaurants across the Middle East and North Africa region, with plans to expand to markets including Lebanon, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt.

“We are delighted to add Saudi Arabia to the expanding list of countries where guests can enjoy the great food and service that are the hallmarks of IHOP restaurants everywhere,” said Julia Stewart, chairman and CEO, DineEquity Inc., and interim president, International House of Pancakes, LLC. “Our restaurants in this region have already proven that there is a great demand for our menu in this market, thanks to the tremendous job Alshaya has done in bringing their unparalleled expertise and high standards of excellence to our restaurants there. We look forward to working together to open additional locations throughout the region.”

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