The 5th Avenue Coach store.


Coach Inc. is back on the rumor mill as a takeover target.

Shares of Coach saw some trading action shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday following a short item on Benzinga Lightning Feed — a data feed used by many traders — that French luxury firm Kering had made a takeover bid for the accessories firm.

The shares were up around 1.7 percent as the Benzinga report surfaced, then rose to 2 percent in 15 minutes, before falling 1.8 percent. By 3 p.m., shares of Coach were trading up 2.6 percent to $39.97 before dipping slightly to close at $38.86. Five million shares changed hands, compared with a three-month average trading volume of 3.5 million shares.

A spokeswoman for Coach said, “Coach has a long-standing policy of not commenting on rumors and speculation.” And for the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any official filing from Coach with the Securities and Exchange Commission confirming that there was an official offer on the table for the company.

Wednesday’s rumbling is not the first time that Coach has made the rounds of the rumor mill. In past years, there was speculation that Coach and Tiffany & Co. would combine, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton might acquire Coach, and just last year speculation that a merger between Coach and Burberry might be in the works.

But there was also unconfirmed talk in 2014 and 2015 that Kering was interested in a bid for Coach. Back in 2014 when the rumblings surfaced, the chatter was that Kering could bid in the high $40s for the American handbag firm.

The idea of a takeover offer comes at a time when Coach is said to have made the second round of bidding for rival handbag firm Kate Spade & Co.

When the company posted second-quarter results on Jan. 31, chief executive officer Victor Luis told WWD about the firm’s quest to be taken seriously in the fashion community. Under Luis’ direction, and that of creative director Stuart Vevers, the company more recently has been making headway on its turnaround of the brand. That has been aided in part with its new designer line Coach 1941 Collection.

Luis also spoke about the company’s focus on handbags, footwear and outerwear, and even went on the record stating that the firm is eyeing acquisition opportunities — it aims to be a multibrand luxury firm — for “great brands where [Coach] has confidence there’s room for growth, as well as where the Coach team can add value.”

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