FINANCE

Nine West Holdings sells its footwear brands

BY Marianne Wilson

Nine West Holdings has sold its namesake and Bandolino businesses to Authentic Brand Group.

ABG bought the intellectual property of the two businesses on Monday at a bankruptcy auction for $340 million. Nine West Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April, with a plan to sell the two brands to ABG as part of its reorganization plan. ABG’s winning bid is over $140 million more than its initial stalking horse bid.

“This was a highly competitive bidding process, which is a testament to the strength of these brands and we are thrilled that the outcome had ABG taking ownership of Nine West and Bandolino,” said Jamie Salter, chairman and CEO of ABG. “The addition of these two brands enhances ABG’s growing lifestyle portfolio, while launching our global footwear platform. We see incredible opportunity to expand the brands beyond footwear and handbags, specifically in the apparel and home categories as well as in new markets around the world.”

As part of the transaction, ABG assumes all licensing partnerships and marketing initiatives for the Nine West and Bandolino brands. The company appointed Marc Fisher Footwear to operate the footwear businesses.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with ABG and to help drive the global success of Nine West and Bandolino,” said Marc Fisher, founder and CEO, Marc Fisher Footwear. “As my father co-founded Nine West and Bandolino, I spent much of my footwear career working on these two brands. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build great product that will resonate strongly with consumers and reinvigorate these brands in the marketplace.”

Nine West Holdings plans to revamp its capital structure around its profitable businesses, including Anne Klein, Kasper Group, The Jewelry Group and One Jeanswear Group. The company plans to exit bankruptcy court proceedings around September.

“Authentic Brands Group is an industry leader and we are pleased that they will bring the dedicated expertise and resources to manage the next stage in the life of two strong brands,” said Ralph Schipani, CEO of Nine West Holdings. “We are pleased to have completed this important step in our restructuring and are now focused on moving forward with the reorganization of our remaining businesses with the support of our key stakeholder groups.”

The sale, which is subject to approval by the Bankruptcy Court, is expected to be complete by July 15, 2018.

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Rent-A-Center gets increased acquisition offer

BY Marianne Wilson

An interested party has upped the ante for Rent-A-Center.

Hours after the company announced it had ended its strategic and financial alternatives review and concluded a sale was not in its best interests, the retailer issued a statement in which it said it received an increased offer to acquire the company from one of the parties that has been involved in the process.

“The [offer] letter was not accompanied by equity commitment letters that would be necessary for the company to evaluate whether to enter into an agreement with an acquisition entity possessing no assets,” Rent-A-Center stated.

The rent-to-own retailer said its board would carefully consider any credible proposal with the assistance of its advisors.

Hours before issuing the statement, Rent-A-Center announced it had completed its strategic review and said it did not receive any proposals that met the objectives for a sale.

“Our Board conducted a thorough review of alternatives for our business, and unanimously determined that the execution of our strategic plan remains the best opportunity to deliver value to our stockholders compared to the alternatives available to us,” said J.V. Lentell, chairman, Rent-A-Center. “As demonstrated by our updated financial outlook and key operating metrics for April and May, the company’s strategic plan is already delivering substantial results and Rent-A-Center is well-positioned to generate value for all stockholders.”

In the same announcement, the retailer said it would “continue to regularly review opportunities to drive value on behalf of our stockholders.” It also noted that its cost reduction initiatives are significantly ahead of schedule, “and we expect to generate over $100 million in annual run-rate savings and realize approximately $70 million in savings in 2018.”

Rent-A-Center, which operates some 2,400 stores in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada, has been under pressure from its shareholders Engaged Capital and Marcato Capital to sell itself. It rejected buyout offers last summer.

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Starbucks launches prepaid card—with a rewards twist

BY Marianne Wilson

Starbucks Corp. is making it easier for consumers to accrue points in its loyalty program.

The coffee giant and Chase are launching the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card, the first general purpose prepaid or debit card for which consumers can earn earn “Stars” for purchases outside of Starbucks. The new card is integrated directly into the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program.

“This reloadable Visa Prepaid card is a unique and modern option that gives customers one more way to earn more Stars and Rewards through everyday spend, in a way they haven’t been able to before,” said Matt Ryan, chief marketing officer for Starbucks.

The new card has no monthly, annual or reload fees. Cardholders will receive instant “Gold” status within the Starbucks loyalty program, along with other exclusive benefits. They will receive one star for every $10 on purchases made with card.

The prepaid card is the second co-branded product introduced by Starbucks and Chase this year. In February, the two companies introduced the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card.

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