Insiders have been saying for months that Michael Dell of Dell Computer fame has been closely scrutinizing Applebee's and the operation of its parent, DineEquity. Those parties say Dell has become interested in the restaurant business, and in a turnaround of Applebee's in particular.
But the only outward sign had been the announcement in December that Southeastern Asset Management, an equity company affiliated with Longleaf Partners Fund, was planning to take an active role in the management of DineEquity, in which it holds a significant stake. Dell was an investor in various funds affiliated with Longleaf, which in turn has held a significant number of shares in Dell Computer.
SAM is reportedly DineEquity's largest shareholder. Michael Dell is the second largest.
Now Dell's interest is out in the open. DineEquity announced today that it has appointed Howard M. Berk to its board of directors. Berk is a partner in MSD Capital LP, a fund that manages the wealth of Michael Dell--the MSD of MSD Capital--and his family.
Julia Stewart, meet Michael Dell. And that's not a Mac your using, is it?
DineEquity franchises IHOP as well as Applebee's.