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SPARTANBURG, SC-Denny’s is selling 66 franchisee-operated restaurants to National Retail Properties for about $67 million. The company is selling the units, management says, to reduce debt and strengthen its balance sheet.

After this transaction, which the parties expect to close in 30 days, Denny’s will have sold 80 properties this year for about $81 million. After its pending disposition with National Retail, Denny’s will have 13 more franchisee-operated restaurants for sale.

The units the chain is selling are company owned but leased to franchise operators. In all, Denny’s currently operates 540 company-owned restaurants and 1,025 franchised and licensed units in the North America, Costa Rica, Guam and New Zealand.

Locally based Denny’s sales have been impacted of late by high gas prices and other macroeconomic challenges. Same-store sales for its most recent reported quarter, which ended June 28, fell 0.4% at company-owned units and increased 1.4% at franchisee-operated units year over year. During that period total operating revenue dropped by $3.1 million from the same year-ago period, to $243.5 million.

Orlando-based National Retail Properties invests in properties with high long-term net leases. The company owns 607 assets in 41 states that are leased to 180 different tenants.

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