The bid was for more than $2 billion, according to Bloomberg News, which cited a person with direct knowledge of the offer. Nothing has been announced, and there could be other bidders lurking. Whether it's coincidence of not, IHOP CEO Julia Stewart was president of Applebee's domestic division from 1998 to 2001. The Glendale-based company announced earlier this year that it might acquire a chain that isn't a competitor. The deal would make sense for IHOP, which over the years has struggled to get a dinner crowd because it's always been considered a pancake house. That's why the name was changed to IHOP from International House of Pancakes. On the other hand, Applebee's is twice its size.
*More on Stewart: She's gotten pretty good notices in trying to freshen up what had been a beaten-down brand. There's a new menu, jazzed-up marketing, and improved relations with franchises. Also, fourth-quarter earnings were decent a penny or two above Wall Street expectations. She told Forbes a couple of years back that turning around IHOP has been her greatest career challenge.
It's been trying to find that unique approach, that you move quickly but not too quickly because you've got to take people with you. You create the strategies but you do them in a very thoughtful and planful way, such that they work to the maximum. That you are able to create this model but you're doing it while you're bringing all your constituencies with you. I mean think about it. I've got a board of directors. I've got shareholders. I've got franchisees. I've got co-employees. I've got guests. It's a very complex group of constituencies whose needs sometimes may be uniquely different.
**Not everybody is convinced the Bloomberg report is true. "I don't believe it," Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Michael Smith told Dow Jones, explaining that unlike Applebee's, IHOP is a mostly franchised operation. "They're not in the business of running restaurants," he said.