By  on May 14, 2007

The partnership between NRDC Equity Partners and Christina Johnson turned out to be a short one.

Johnson, a former Saks Fifth Avenue president and chief executive, joined NRDC Equity Partners in October 2006 as a partner and managing director of retail and consumer investments. Last week, reports surfaced she was no longer a partner and no longer involved with Lord & Taylor, which is owned by NRDC.

Johnson confirmed the partnership had ended, and she had assumed a different role there. "I'm still affiliated with NRDC, but not as a partner. I'm working with them on the investment side of the business," meaning she is helping NRDC find another business to purchase that she can run. "I haven't enjoyed sitting on the sidelines," she said. Johnson has not run a company since she left Saks Fifth Avenue in 2003.

"I recently appointed Tina to the NRDC Advisory Board," said Richard Baker, president and ceo of NRDC Equity Partners and chairman of Lord & Taylor. "She and I are aggressively pursuing companies for NRDC to purchase, which Tina would then operate."

People familiar with NRDC said last week the company was looking at several possible acquisitions. NRDC is creating a studio of top talent to design exclusives for Lord & Taylor and possibly wholesale merchandise through a variety of arrangements, ranging from licensing agreements to ownership interests. The latest to sign on is Bryan Bradley of Tuleh, who will create an exclusive collection for Lord & Taylor. NRDC has also been in talks with designers Charles Nolan and Peter Som, and has already signed Cynthia Steffe.

Last year, NRDC bought Lord & Taylor from Federated Department Stores Inc. for $1.08 billion. The private equity firm also took a minority stake in Linens-N-Things. NRDC, based in Purchase, N.Y., has other interests in retail companies and has completed transactions in excess of $50 billion, in the retail, leisure, lodging and commercial real estate sectors.

NRDC is a joint venture between Robert C. Baker and his son, Richard, the principals of National Realty & Development Corp., and William Mack and Lee Neibart, partners of Apollo Real Estate Advisors L.P. National Realty & Development owns more than 100 shopping and strip centers, corporate business centers and residential communities.

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