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Darden CEO to step down amid Olive Garden troubles

NEW YORK (AP) -- Darden Restaurants says CEO and chairman Clarence Otis is stepping down as the company fights to fix its flagship Olive Garden chain following the sale of Red Lobster.

The company, based in Orlando, Florida, also says it's changing its corporate policies to split the chairman and CEO roles.

Darden said Monday that it appointed its current lead independent director, Charles Ledsinger, Jr., as independent non-executive chairman, effective immediately. Otis will serve as CEO until a successor is named, or Dec. 31, whichever comes first.

Darden Restaurants Inc. had been under fire for failing to turn around declining sales at Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Earlier on Monday, it said its contested sale of Red Lobster was finalized.

Otis became CEO in late 2004, adding the chairman role a year later.

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