Deal to Buy Jones Group Close

Stefan L. Kaluzny’s Sycamore Partners is expected to buy the company for about $1.2 billion, or $15 a share.

The deal to take The Jones Group Inc. private is coming down to the wire.

This story first appeared in the December 17, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Stefan L. Kaluzny’s Sycamore Partners is expected to buy the company for about $1.2 billion, or $15 a share. And while the two sides were initially expected to sign the deal Monday, they spent the day making final tweaks to paperwork for the transaction, a source said. An agreement is still expected this week.

Jones is a big fish for Kaluzny to reel in.

The investor established Sycamore in 2011, raising more than $1 billion that was ultimately put to work, buying a stake in what was then Limited Brands Inc.’s sourcing business and acquiring The Talbots Inc. and Hot Topic Inc.

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But a Jones deal would take Sycamore to another level, adding $3.75 billion in annual sales and 35 brands, including standouts Stuart Weitzman and Kurt Geiger on the higher end.

The company’s businesses, which also include Jones New York and Nine West, have overall seen lackluster profitability. Activist investor James Mitarotonda, head of Barington Capital Group, has needled the firm to boost results.

Citi was hired to explore strategic options, shepherding what has proved to be a long process. And one in which Sycamore, advised by Guggenheim Securities, played many parts — first looking to acquire the apparel business and then switching its interest to the footwear division before settling on the whole company.

The deal, should it ultimately go through, will bring to a close an era on Seventh Avenue where Jones, along with Liz Claiborne Inc. and Kellwood Co., once ruled over their particular piece of the department store wholesale business. Claiborne, which was renamed Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., agreed to sell off Lucky Brand last week, leaving it with just the Kate Spade brand. Kellwood Co. spun off Vince, its most promising business, in an initial public offering last month.