Darden Restaurants Heads South of the Border

A day after Cheesecake Factory announced a licensing agreement that would expand its presence into Mexico and Chile, fellow casual-dining company Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI  ) yesterday announced its own move south of the border.

Darden has signed an agreement with Brazil's International Meal Company to develop and operate 57 assorted Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants across Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Panama.

"Brazil's growing middle class and strong affinity for American brands makes it an attractive growth market for Darden," Kim Lopdrup, senior vice president of business development for Darden, was quoted as saying in the press release. International Meal Co. has more than 350 company-owned restaurants and approximately 12,000 employees. The company operates the Frango Assado and Viena flagship brands.

Financial terms were not disclosed in the press release, nor did the companies advise on the timetable for Darden's planned international expansion.

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