Authentic Brands Group led the consortium that won the auction for Aéropostale Inc., a win that keeps over 200 stores in operation and saves thousands of jobs.
Late Thursday evening, all constituency groups in the Aeropostale bankruptcy reached an agreement that paved the way for the ABG win, which includes the acquisition of Aéropostale’s e-commerce business and the international licensing business. The international stores operating through franchise agreements are not part of the U.S. bankruptcy filing. Included in the consortium – which agreed to pay nearly $250 million – are two landlords, Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties, and two liquidators, Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and Hilco Merchant Resources.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many U.S. stores ABG would keep, although it is expected to be at least 229 of the 600 stores currently in operation. And it wasn’t immediately clear exactly how many jobs would be saved in total, although it still will total thousands in number.
An Aéropostale spokeswoman said, “The conclusion of the auction clears the way for the going concern see to be completed following a confirmation hearing, which is scheduled for Sept. 12. Aéropostale looks forward to closing the sale and emerging from bankruptcy with new ownership as a financially stronger company positioned to compete and succeed in an evolving retail landscape.”
A Sycamore Partners spokesman said, “We are please with the outcome of the Aéropostale Inc. bankruptcy auction, which will result in the repayment of our debt while enabling the company to keep open more than 200 stores, preserve thousands of jobs and continue to serve customers. We wish the new ownership group success with the Aéropostale brand and operating company.”
The ABG-led consortium and Sycamore were dueling bidders down to the wire. An affiliate of the private equity firm was a prepetition lender to the bankrupt retailer, giving Sycamore secured lender status at $150 million. The auction began on Monday and negotiations between the debtor, Sycamore and the ABG consortium were ongoing for the better part of the auction process, with the initial expectation late Thursday afternoon that a resolution would not be concluded until over the weekend. Legal documents detailing the deal are now expected to be filed with the Manhattan bankruptcy court by Tuesday.