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.
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.