Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s founder, Chip Wilson, reached an agreement worth about $845 million to sell half his stake in the company to private equity firm Advent International.
The deal was backed by the Lululemon board and will give Advent 20.1 million shares, or 13.9 percent of the company, and two seats on the retailer’s board.
Wilson drew hackles when, after the company recalled overly sheer black Luon yoga pants, he said the style was right for “some women’s bodies.” He stepped down as chairman this year, but remained a director. Wilson hired Goldman, Sachs & Co. as a financial adviser and started publicly agitating for change at the company. He unsuccessfully tried to remove non-executive chairman Michael Casey and director RoAnn Costin at the annual meeting in June.
“Advent is a strong partner that knows Lululemon and our culture and will be an incredibly helpful addition to the board as we build an even stronger company,” Wilson said.
David Mussafer, a managing partner at Advent, will take on the role of cochairman alongside Casey and Steven Collins, managing director at the private equity firm, will be a director. That will expand the size of Lululemon’s board to 12.
Wilson and Advent agreed to certain standstill provisions for the company’s 2015 and 2016 annual meetings.
The deal marks a return for Advent, which held a stake in the company from 2005 to 2009 and worked with Wilson and half the current board.
Advent’s Mussafer said, “Lululemon is a business that we know well and we believe has continued growth potential, both domestically and internationally.”
Laurent Potdevin, Lululemon’s chief executive officer, added, “I look forward to working with the board of directors to strengthen the company’s foundation, drive innovation and accelerate sustainable and controlled global expansion. By leveraging our design-led roots and providing an exceptional guest experience, we will continue to offer our guests the high-quality, technical products they know and love as we create value for our shareholders.”
Shares of the company gained 7.3 percent to $41.89 in after-hours trading Thursday.
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