Private Equity Firms to Take Liz Claiborne Private?

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Liz Claiborne Inc.'s new logo: Pacific & Fifth Companies

New York—Shares of Liz Claiborne Inc. jumped 21% on Friday following a report that several private firms are interesting in buying the company and taking it private.

According to reports, which cited unnamed sources, KKR & Co, Permira and Warburg Pincus “have been kicking the tires on the company.” The Wall Street Journal said Liz Claiborne Inc. had been in talks with several private equity firms with the reported sale price being $20 a share, which would value the company at about $2 billion.

However, Liz Claiborne denied the rumors. “Our general policy is to not respond to rumors about our company. That said, in response to media reports today, there is currently no contemplation of any strategy for the company other than executing against the operating plan we have already discussed.”

The company is in the midst of a major turnaround. Last year it sold off its namesake brand to JCPenney last year and spun off its Mexx brand and sold others to Kohl’s Bluestar Alliance.  Those sales raised $471 million, helping to pay down its long-term debt.

Now the company, which is changing its name to Fifth & Pacific Cos. in May, is focused on its Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand and kate spade new york brands.

Sales at Juicy Couture fell 15.4% during the holiday quarter but William McComb, ceo said in February that sales would improve in the second half of the year.

“Spring merchandise, delivered since early January, is actually generating strong season-to-date direct-to-consumer comparable sales increases compared to Spring merchandise in the year ago period. These sales trends and the associated gross margin expansion make us optimistic about the year ahead,” McComb said.

In March, the company appointed George Carrara, a former Tommy Hilfiger executive, as its new finance and operations chief effective today.




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