Bob Evans' split from restaurants is final

JD Malone
Bob Evans Farms headquarters in New Albany will remain home to the publicly traded company as well as the leaders of the restaurant operation, which was purchased by Golden Gate Capital. (Dispatch file photo)

Bob Evans has divided the farm.

The previously announced split of the Bob Evans Farms corporate divisions is complete. That leaves the publicly traded portion — still known as Bob Evans Farms — to make and sell sausage and prepared foods such as mashed potatoes to groceries and food-service outlets.

Bob Evans' restaurants now are the property of Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco-based private-equity firm that also owns Red Lobster and California Pizza Kitchen. Golden Gate also now owns the New Albany headquarters and the Bob Evans farm in Gallia County.

Former Bob Evans Farms CEO Saed Mohseni will transition to Golden Gate Capital and remain in charge of the restaurant division. He will get a $1.2 million payment and other compensation for stepping down as CEO.

Mike Townsley, the former president of the Bob Evans food division, is now CEO of Bob Evans Farms.

Bob Evans Farms also completed the acquisition of Pineland Farms Potato Co. of Maine, which makes packaged mashed potatoes for retail sale.

Golden Gate paid $565 million for 523 Bob Evans restaurants. Net proceeds of the sale are expected to be at least $475 million. Bob Evans Farms paid off debt with the money from the sale and plans to pay shareholders a one-time dividend of $7.50 per share this month.

Bob Evans shares have soared since the sale was announced this year. The stock, which closed Monday at $67.41, has traded at or near an all-time high and has almost doubled in value since July.

The prepared-foods company and Golden Gate Capital's new restaurant division will remain at the New Albany headquarters, at least for now. Of the 400 or so employees there, 100 to 125 remain with Bob Evans Farms. Bob Evans Farms will be a tenant at the New Albany complex for at least 18 months, but it does not have a long-term lease there, said Mark Hood, chief financial officer of Bob Evans Farms. If the company moves, it won't be far.

"We're not going to move out of Ohio," Hood said. "We're not going to move out of Columbus."

The two companies have agreed to aid each other in the transition for 18 months, and they signed a five-year contract for Bob Evans Farms to supply sausage and potatoes to the restaurants. The companies also agreed to joint ownership of any intellectual property, which includes recipes.