Wolverine Wins Bid for Collection Brands?

Topeka, KA—Does Wolverine World Wide and its partners have the foothold in the bidding war to buy Collective Brands Inc., owner of the Payless ShoeSource chain?

That’s what two sources close to the negotiations told Bloomberg News today. The apparent deal would have Wolverine and Golden Gate Capital, a private equity firm, paying $21 to $22 a share for Collective Brands, ahead of a bid by E-Land Group, the South Korean footwear group.

The purchase may be announced this week pending final contract terms and negotiations, the sources said.

Faced with slowing sales and mounting losses, Collective Brands initiated a strategic review last year that included closing 475 stores over three years and looking at other options.

Reports circulating last week said that the Rockford, Michigan-based Wolverine was more interested in Collective’s footwear brands, such as Sperry Top-Side, Stride-Rite and Keds, than in the 3,500 Payless retail stores. Besides its Wolverine brand footwear, Wolverine also owns Merrell and Hush Puppies. Golden Gate has invested in several retailers in recent years including Eddie Bauer and J. Jill.

Whichever company does indeed win the bid for Collective Brands, the deal is likely to be will the largest in the U.S. footwear industry since last June when VF Corp. paid $2 billion for Timberland.

According to Bloomberg data, VF paid 12.3 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, “compared with Collective Brands’s April 27 enterprise value to Ebitda multiple of 15.2 times.”



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