Stefan Kaluzny is making a run at buying Chico’s FAS Inc. after having been rebuffed by management.
Kaluzny, managing director of private equity firm Sycamore Partners, said his company bought 6.6 percent of Chico’s and now wants to go all the way.
While Chico’s stock closed at $3.70 on Thursday, Kaluzny said in a letter to the company’s chairman, David Walker, that its share price was inflated by Sycamore’s buying. Without Sycamore in the mix, he said the company’s stock would be trading below $3 and so offered to pay $3.50 per for the company in cash. That would value the retailer at about $408 million.
Chico’s, which has 1,418 stores, recently let go of chief executive officer Shelley Broader, handing the reins on an interim basis to Bonnie Brooks.
“We have expressed an interest in acquiring the company, but you have declined to engage with us,” Kaluzny said. “The recent decision to terminate the ceo suggests that there are serious issues in the business. We believe that the company’s financial performance will continue to deteriorate absent meaningful changes.”
Investors were apparently bullish that the offer could go higher and pushed Chico’s stock up 8.1 percent to $4 Friday.
Chico’s said its board would “carefully review the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of Chico’s FAS shareholders.”
The retailer said it “recently received and rejected an unsolicited proposal from Sycamore to acquire Chico’s FAS for $4.30 per share in cash.”
“Consistent with its fiduciary duties, the board carefully reviewed the prior proposal,” Chico’s said. “Following this review, the board unanimously determined that the prior proposal substantially undervalued Chico’s FAS and was not in the best interests of Chico’s FAS shareholders.”
Chico’s said it is working on finding a new ceo and taking steps to drive revenue growth. The company operates Chico’s, White House Black Market, Soma and TellTale, its new direct-to-consumer lingerie brand.
The company is working with Goldman Sachs & Co. as financial adviser and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison as legal counsel.