Report: Kate Spade to Kick Off Formal Sale Process in January

Kate Spade & Co. plans to kick off a formal auction process in January with six possible bidders in mind
By Stephanie Wong. Source: Bloomberg.

NEW YORK, United States — Kate Spade & Co., which is exploring a sale of the company, plans to kick off a formal auction process in January with six possible bidders in mind, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The New York-based retailer is working with financial advisers on sale preparations, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. The potential bidders for Kate Spade, which has a market value of about $2.2 billion, are mostly other retailers, the person said.

Hedge fund Caerus Investors pushed the company last month to find an acquirer that could help it improve its profit margins. The fund, which didn’t reveal how much of Kate Spade it owns, sent a letter saying shareholders were “incredibly frustrated” with performance and would be better off if the company was sold to an acquirer that could better manage the business.

Phone calls to a spokeswoman for Kate Spade weren’t immediately returned. A representative for Caerus declined to comment.

The New York-based hedge fund’s founder and chief investment officer, Ward Davis, said Wednesday that he wasn’t aware of any moves Kate Spade is taking toward a possible sale — though he would be supportive of such a process. Caerus’s engagement with the board “has been constructive,” he said.

The company — formerly named Fifth & Pacific — had been seen as an attractive takeover target ever since it sold the Juicy Couture and Lucky brands in 2013 and 2014, leaving Kate Spade as its sole major nameplate. But it embarked on a plan to become a lifestyle brand, selling everything from apparel to home goods — similar to Ralph Lauren Corp. — with a goal of quadrupling revenue to $4 billion annually.

The shares jumped 23 percent on Wednesday, their biggest gain since October 2011, after the Wall Street Journal first reported that the company is pursuing a sale. They fell Thursday morning, trading 2.9 percent lower at $17.35 at 10:13 a.m. in New York.

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