Mall owners team up to buy bankrupt Bon-Ton

The Bon-Ton Stores has been thrown a lifeline.

An investor group made up of two mall owners — Washington Prime Group and Namdar Realty Group — and alternative asset manager DW Partners have signed a letter of intent to acquire the department store as a going concern in a Bankrupt Court-supervised sale process.

In teaming up to save Bon-Ton, the two mall owners would be following in the footsteps of Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties. In fall 2016, the two companies teamed up to buy bankrupt teen apparel retailer Aeropostale.  The deal is credited with keeping 229 Aeropostale stores open.

Bon-Ton, which is saddled with about $1.1 billion in debt, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February. In early April, it said it was in “active discussions with interested parties” who may be interested in buying the company, and received approval from its lenders to extend the deadline for submitting qualified bids. An auction is now set for April 16.

“We are pleased to have received this signed letter of intent and are advancing our discussions with the investor group to complete an asset purchase agreement as we proceed toward the court-supervised auction,” said Bill Tracy, president and CEO, Bon-Ton. “With the help of our advisors, we will evaluate all qualified bids and are committed to maximizing value and pursuing the best path forward for the company and our stakeholders.”

Bon-Ton Stores operates 250 stores in 23 states in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers nameplates.