Sycamore to take apparel retailer Chico’s FAS private for nearly $1 billion

(Reuters) -Chico’s FAS will be taken private by Sycamore Partners for $938.1 million in an all-cash deal, the apparel retailer said on Thursday, sending its shares surging 63% in premarket trading.

Shareholders of Chico’s will receive $7.60 per share, representing a 65% premium to the stock’s last close.

Sycamore is known to bet on retail and consumer investments and has stake in department store operator Belk, discount retailer Dollar Express and mall and web-based specialty retailer Hot Topic.

The private equity firm has been trying to acquire Florida-based Chico’s since 2015 after it failed to secure acceptable financing terms for its bid.

In 2019, Sycamore had offered $407.8 million, which was eventually lowered to $350 million after Chico’s financial performance worsened, but the deal was rejected by its shareholders.

The retailer has also been a target for activist investor Barington Capital Group, which had in 2021 pushed the company to explore strategic options for its brands amid a slump in its stock price.

The 40-year-old women’s focused retailer, with about 1,200 stores in the U.S., reported slowing sales in the latest quarterly results in June, hurt by inflation and store closures.

“Through this investment, we are gaining. ..flexibility to fuel the growth of our. ..three brands Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma,” Chico’s CEO Molly Langenstein said.

The company’s board has approved the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Arun Koyyur)