GLENDALE, Calif. – IHOP Franchise Company LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of DineEquity Inc., has signed a multi-restaurant franchise agreement with an affiliated entity of Kuwait-based M.H. Alshaya Co., WLL, for developing 40 new IHOP Restaurants in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt.

This agreement marks the first major expansion of the IHOP chain outside of North America and represents the largest international development deal in the brand's history. DineEquity is the parent company of IHOP and Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar Restaurants, which operate more than 3,500 restaurants combined.

"This agreement illustrates our commitment to grow our business by leveraging DineEquity's valuable brands and expanding beyond the markets we have traditionally served," said Julia Stewart, DineEquity's chairman and CEO. "We look forward to working with Alshaya to make IHOP, with its unmistakable offerings and excellent service, a destination of choice for guests throughout the Middle East."

IHOP will be one of the most recognized American family dining brands to enter the Middle East when its restaurants begin to open in the area over the next 12 months. Alshaya has a successful history of operating leading international brands in the region and plans to open the 40 IHOP restaurants there during the next five years.

"Consumers in the Middle East consistently tell us that they want the great quality and value that IHOP represents and we are pleased to introduce this leading American dining brand here," said Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman, Alshaya. "The popularity and international appeal of the IHOP brand, combined with our proven track record of operating and delivering exceptional service customized to the local market promises to create a powerful partnership."

IHOP's development program has focused exclusively on North America, with restaurants located throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. Recent international development has taken the brand to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Guatemala. IHOP plans to open between 55-65 new restaurants in 2011, most of which are expected to open in the US.

Based in Glendale, Calif., DineEquity Inc., through its subsidiaries, franchises and operates restaurants under the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP brands. DineEquity is the largest full-service restaurant company in the world.

There are 1,513 IHOP restaurants in 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Under the licensed name IHOP at HOME, consumers can also buy a line of premium breakfast products available at Wal*Mart stores. IHOP restaurants are franchised and operated by Glendale, Calif.-based International House of Pancakes LLC and its affiliates. International House of Pancakes LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DineEquity Inc.