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Authentic Brands in Hunt for Juicy Couture

The brand management firm is in a bidding war with IDG Capital Partners for the Fifth & Pacific division, according to sources.

It’s a two-horse race for Juicy Couture, with Authentic Brands Group in a bidding war with IDG Capital Partners for the brand, according to sources.

This story first appeared in the June 5, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Financial sources said E. Land Group, the South Korean conglomerate that recently acquired K-Swiss and is in a joint venture with Kate Spade in China, remains “interested” in the process, although it has not made an offer for Juicy and is not expected to. That means E. Land is hoping to either join forces with one of the bidders or work on a licensing deal with the ultimate buyer.

Some sources believe IDG could be looking for a partner. IDG is venture capital backed, and is focused on investments in China that are VC or private equity related projects. The typical IDG investment is between $1 million and $100 million.

Both Juicy Couture and Kate Spade are owned by Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., which is also looking to sell the Lucky Brand Jeans division.

As reported, that sale is also between two bidders, one of which is said to be Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. and the other global private equity firm Advent International. One of Advent’s operating partners is Jenny Ming, now president and chief executive officer of Advent portfolio company Charlotte Russe. She previously was president of Old Navy and a member of the original executive team that founded that Gap Inc. division. Executives at Advent could not be reached for comment.

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As for Authentic, a successful bid would represent the latest acquisition in a series of a purchases in the last six months for the brand management firm. The company paid $72.3 million for bankrupt HMX Group in December, acquiring the Hart Schaffner Marx and Hickey Freeman brands, among others under the HMX corporate umbrella. That was followed by the acquisition of the Judith Leiber, Adrienne Vittadini and Taryn Rose brands from Schottenstein Luxury Group in January for an undisclosed amount.

James Salter, Authentic’s chairman and ceo, was traveling and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

If successful, Juicy would likely be Authentic’s highest-priced acquisition to date. Fifth & Pacific is said to be seeking $300 million for the brand. That purchase price wouldn’t be a hardship for the brand management firm, which is 75 percent owned by private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners.