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OVERLAND PARK, KS-Applebee’s International’s board of directors is considering exploring strategic alternatives for the 1,942-unit chain, including a sale of the company. To “enhance shareholder value,” management is also considering a recapitalization of the locally based firm.

Executives are considering a sale as a flood of private-equity money has been buying up restaurant companies. Two firms are acquiring the Outback Steakhouse chain for $3.2 billion, Landry’s sold its Joe’s Crab Shack chain last year for $192 million and steakhouse-chain Logan’s Roadhouse traded hands last year for $486 million.

The move comes as sales and earnings at the chain have fallen as guest traffic has dropped. Domestic same-store sales were down 5.8% year over year in January. In its most recently-reported quarter, which ended Oct. 25, same-store sales fell 2.3%, and earnings per share fell to 20 cents from 28 cents.

Executives expect to release fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow. They have also withdrawn their guidance forecast for the coming year, which included the opening of 10 to 15 new units, and a same-store sales increase between 1% and 2%.

Applebee’s has hired Citigroup Global Markets Inc., as well as Banc of America Securities as financial advisors. Its legal representation is comprised of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, New York City; and Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin LLP, of Kansas City, MO.

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