Backstage at Thom Browne RTW Fall 2018

There’s a new acquirer on the prowl — with deep pockets, a background in fashion and some big name help, including Tommy Hilfiger and Domenico De Sole. 

Sandbridge Acquisition Corp. — a blank check company looking for a business to acquire — completed a $200 million offering on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday. 

The company has 24 months to make an acquisition or it will have to give the money back to its investors. Given the amount of cash at its disposal and its ability to borrow more funds, the firm could easily do a $600 million deal and has enough firepower to potentially go as high as $2 billion. 

Leading the blank check company is chief executive officer and chairman Ken Suslow, who is also a founding managing partner at Sandbridge Capital, which is behind the effort. He is backed up by veteran Joe Lamastra, who is chief operating officer and also a founding managing partner of the private equity firm. Fixed-income giant Pacific Investment Management Company is also co-sponsor of the blank check company.

The new firm’s executives could not comment due to the quiet period connected to the offering, which was managed by Citigroup and UBS Investment Bank as joint book-runners. 

But Sandbridge Capital is a known quantity and has been an active dealmaker in fashion since its founding in 2013, having made a particularly lucrative investment in Thom Browne, which it sold to Ermenegildo Zegna Group. It has also snapped up stakes in Farfetch, Rossignol, The RealReal Inc., Youth To The People Inc., Bonobos and Ilia Inc., among others. 

The new Sandbridge — like the private equity company — has plenty of top tier talent helping.

Hilfiger is an adviser and De Sole, cofounder of Tom Ford International and former Gucci chief, is a board member. 

Sandbridge is one of the many would-be buyers preparing to jump into a market being rapidly remade by COVID-19.

“The coronavirus pandemic has served to both heighten and accelerate the highly dislocative trends that began impacting the global consumer retail landscape well in advance of our current moment,” Sandbridge said in its offering prospectus. “We believe the resulting economic reality has pushed forward by years the substantial opportunity set for modern brands with similarly modern business models. We expect these brands will inevitably continue to garner large market share gains at the expense of their challenged legacy retail competitors.”

The company said consumers will continue to gravitate toward luxury brands on the one hand and deep value on the other, with businesses in the middle losing. 

Accordingly, Sandbridge will be looking to spend its millions on what it called “‘2.0’ consumer digital platforms and technologies,” beauty and personal-care brands, luxury and health and wellness.

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