DineEquity Inc. (NYSE:DIN – News), franchisor and operator of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP Restaurants, today announced that its board of directors suspended the payment of its quarterly cash dividend to common shareholders for the foreseeable future.

This reflects ongoing proactive steps DineEquity is taking to maximize its financial flexibility as the company plans to reallocate the approximately $17 million in cash it has been paying out in annual dividends on common stock to opportunistically retire outstanding debt.

Julia A. Stewart, DineEquity’s chairman and chief executive officer, says, “Today’s financial market environment presents a unique opportunity for us to retire debt. With this action, we expect to further accelerate the reduction of our consolidated funded debt. Additionally, the company expects to utilize proceeds generated by our asset disposition strategy for Applebee’s as well as excess free cash flow from operations to reduce overall debt levels. We believe this is a prudent step that is expected to create value for shareholders over the long-term.”

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