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Burger King, Popeyes Franchisee Gets Top Lawyer From Hedge Fund

Feb. 10, 2021, 11:20 PM

Carrols Restaurant Group Inc. hired hedge fund executive Jared Landaw as vice president and general counsel, the third person to hold that role in a year.

He joins the company after serving as a partner, general counsel, and chief operating officer for Barington Capital Group LP, a New York-based hedge fund that has been an activist investor in several prominent restaurant chains.

Landaw aims to help Carrols with “its strategy of operating two world-class restaurant brands,” he said in a statement. Carrols is the largest U.S. franchisee of Burger King restaurants with more than 1,000 locations, and the company also owns 65 units for Popeyes.

The Wednesday announcement comes almost a year to the day after Carrols touted its addition of vice president and general counsel Markus Hartmann, who was tapped to succeed the company’s retiring legal chief, William Myers.

Neither Syracuse, N.Y.-based Carrols or Hartmann, a former combat helicopter pilot who once spoke out about racism in the U.S. Marine Corps, responded to requests for comment about his status with the company. Landaw also didn’t respond to a request for comment about his new role.

Carrols, like many restaurant operators, struggled last year when many of its establishments were temporarily shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company disclosed in January that a months-long decline in sales at its Burger King stores fell by just 0.9% during the last three months of 2020, an improvement from the previous quarter.

Carrols cited another cause for optimism—a new spicy chicken sandwich set to debut in all Burger King restaurants by May.

Carrols reversed a decision last year to cut by 10% the pay of fast food workers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Carrols didn’t receive federal government economic relief funds under the Paycheck Protection Program.

New Shift

At Barington, Landaw specialized in corporate governance matters and helping companies implement initiatives designed to create long-term shareholder value, according to online biographical information.

Barington sought changes in 2018 at Bloomin Brands Inc., a Tampa-based restaurant holding company that owns the Outback Steakhouse brand. Barington sought the changes four years after it pushed for the breakup of Darden Restaurants Inc., the Orlando-based owner of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and the Capital Grille.

Clarence Otis Jr., an attorney who spent a decade as Darden’s CEO, stepped down in 2014 following an activist campaign launched by Barington and other investors upset with the company’s decision to unload seafood chain Red Lobster in a $2.1 billion deal earlier that year. Darden subsequently appointed a new general counsel.

Landaw, a former associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, joined Barington in 2004 after serving as vice president of law at former chemicals maker International Specialty Products Inc.

Landaw is also a co-founder of the Gridiron Games, a program sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City that raises money for the nonprofit by allowing children and their mentors to play football in MetLife Stadium. The pandemic led the annual event to be held virtually last year.

Previous Counsel

Carrols noted in its most recent proxy statement that it paid $408,610—the bulk of it cash—to Myers, its former general counsel, during fiscal 2019. Bloomberg data shows that Myers currently owns stock in the company valued at $631,000.

Myers officially retired Feb. 18, 2020, four days after Carrols announced its hire of Hartmann to be his successor. Myers, who spent 19 years at Carrols, didn’t respond to a request for comment about the company’s latest legal chief change.

Hartmann owns almost $360,000 in Carrols stock, per Bloomberg data. The company didn’t disclose compensation information for Hartmann in its latest proxy. He is no longer listed on Carrols’ online management page. Archived internet records show he was removed from it between September and November of last year.

Prior to joining Carrols, Hartmann spent a year as vice president of technical compliance for the North American research and development arm of Mercedes-Benz, a unit of German auto company Daimler AG. Within the past two decades he’s also served as legal chief for Aspen Dental Management Inc. and held divisional general counsel roles at Sandoz Inc. and Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC.

Deborah Derby, a member of the board at Carrols and a former in-house lawyer at Whirlpool Corp., was announced Wednesday as a new board member at Henry Schein Inc., a health care products and services provider.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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