Talbots buyout talks with Sycamore end

Hingham, Mass. -- Talbots said Friday that Sycamore Partners had walked away from negotiations over a proposed $215 million buyout of the retailer. The company, which also reported first quarter results, said it was exploring other strategic alternatives.

“Sycamore Partners informed the company that it is not prepared to execute a transaction at this time,” Talbots said in a statement on Friday. “The company remains open to pursuing a transaction with Sycamore Partners at $3.05 per share pursuant to an acceptable merger agreement providing for an appropriate level of closing certainty and supported by firm debt and equity financing commitments.”

Earlier this month, Talbots and Sycamore entered into an exclusivity agreement to discuss an offer of $3.05 a share for Talbots. That exclusivity period was extended twice and expired on Friday.

On Friday, Talbots reported operating income of $5.6 million for the first quarter, ended April 28, 2012, up sharply from $3.2 million in the quarter a year ago.

Net sales decreased 8.4% to $275.9 million, compared with $301.3 million in the same period last year, due in part to the impact of store closings in fiscal 2011 as a result of the company’s store rationalization plan. Consolidated comparable sales, which includes stores, Internet, catalog and red-line sales, decreased 3.8% compared with the prior year.

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