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Applebee's sales include restaurant in Willmar

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GLENDALE, Calif. -- DineEquity Inc. has agreed to sell 63 company-operated Applebee's restaurants in Minnesota and Wisconsin to Apple American Group LLC. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter 2010.

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DineEquity is the parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP Restaurants.

The sale includes the Applebee's in Willmar.

The $32 million transaction will enable DineEquity to reduce its debt and deliver $105 million in financial benefit to the company.

Apple American is the company's largest Applebee's franchisee. The sale is part of the company's plan to make Applebee's a more highly franchised restaurant chain.

Currently, more than 88 percent of the company's 3,450 restaurants are franchised. After this transaction, 90 percent will be franchised, according to a release from DineEquity.

Since DineEquity acquired Applebee's International in 2007, it has sold 110 other company-owned restaurants, too.

With $520 million in sales and employing more than 14,000 people, Apple American is Applebee's largest franchisee and is the 2nd largest franchise operator of any restaurant concept in the country.

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