Nine West asks Lazard to help it explore a sale

Bankrupt fashion company Nine West Holdings Inc has asked investment bank Lazard Ltd to help it explore a sale, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, a month after its namesake brand known for its footwear and handbags fetched $340 million in an auction.

The sale of the Nine West brand, for $140 million more than the first offer, has emboldened the company to seek an outright sale for its remaining assets which include its jeanswear and jewelry businesses, and the Anne Klein and Kasper women’s’ brands, the sources said. Some creditors had planned to convert their debt to equity in the remaining business.

Nine West is also considering selling the businesses piecemeal, the sources said.

The sources cautioned that no deal is certain and asked not to be named because the deliberations are confidential.

Nine West and Sycamore Partners, the buyout firm that owns the company, declined to comment. Lazard did not immediately return a request for comment.

Many of the U.S. retailers that sell Nine West merchandise, such as department store operator Bon-Ton Stores Inc, have filed for bankruptcy or faced financial distress as online shopping has decimated foot traffic in their stores. Nine West filed for bankruptcy in April after failing to meet its debt obligations in March.

Nine West’s jeanswear and jewelry businesses, together with Anne Klein and Kasper, had net revenues of $1.1 billion in 2017, according to bankruptcy court documents. The jeanswear line includes Gloria Vanderbilt jeans sold in Costco Wholesale Corp, Kohls Corp and Sears Holdings Corp.

Anne Klein and Kasper, sold at department stores such as Macy’s Inc, are widely considered storied names in fashion that set the tone for women’s careerwear.

Brand licensor Authentic Brands Group LLC completed the acquisition of the Nine West brand this month after beating shoe retailer DSW Inc in an auction.

A group of creditors in Nine West has been looking into potential legal claims against Sycamore Partners, seeking greater recovery on their investment, according to court papers. The creditors have claimed in court documents that Sycamore may have acquired some of Nine West’s assets, such as the high-end Kurt Geiger and Stuart Weitzman shoe businesses, for less than their true value, according to the papers.

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