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Authentic Brands Group Secures Nine West with $340M Bid

The Belmont Stakes wasn’t the only race taking place this weekend. Authentic Brands Group (ABG) won the auction Sunday for the intellectual property of bankrupt footwear and accessories company Nine West Holdings, Inc.

ABG’s winning bid is valued at over $340 million, $140 million more than the company’s stalking horse bid. Reuters reported that ABG bested a bid by footwear retailer DSW, which was interested in the brand for its own roster of private label lines.

ABG’s global portfolio of brands includes Frye, Taryn Rose, Tretorn, Airwalk and more. In March, the New York City-based company acquired Nautica from VF Corp. Nick Woodhouse, ABG president and CMO, said the purchase of Nine West “elevates ABG’s footwear and accessories business to over $2 billion in global retail sales” and brings the company’s portfolio to nearly $8 billion.

“This was a highly competitive bidding process, which is a testament to the strength of these brands and we are thrilled that the outcome had ABG taking ownership of Nine West and Bandolino,” Jamie Salter, ABG chairman and CEO. “The addition of these two brands enhances ABG’s growing lifestyle portfolio, while launching our global footwear platform. We see incredible opportunity to expand the brands beyond footwear and handbags, specifically in the apparel and home categories as well as in new markets around the world.”

Nine West, which is owned by private equity firm Sycamore Partners, was gunning for ABG. In April, Nine West filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11. The company stated that the filing was made to facilitate the sale of its Nine West and Bandolino footwear and handbag business to ABG. At the time of the filing, Nine West said it would retain its apparel, jewelry, and jeanswear segments and operate them under a new capital structure.

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“Authentic Brands Group is an industry leader and we are pleased that they will bring the dedicated expertise and resources to manage the next stage in the life of two strong brands,” Nine West Holdings CEO Ralph Schipani said. “We are pleased to have completed this important step in our restructuring and are now focused on moving forward with the reorganization of our remaining businesses with the support of our key stakeholder groups.”

As part of the transaction, ABG assumes all licensing partnerships and marketing initiatives for the Nine West and Bandolino brands. ABG has appointed Marc Fisher Footwear to operate the footwear businesses and Signal Products, Inc. to operate the handbag and SLG businesses.

Marc Fisher, founder and CEO of Marc Fisher Footwear, is familiar with the brands. His father Jerome Fisher co-founded Nine West and Bandolino with Vince Camuto in 1983. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build great product that will resonate strongly with consumers and reinvigorate these brands in the marketplace,” Fisher said.

The sale is expected to be completed by mid-July. Reuters reported that creditors in Nine West are exploring legal claims against Sycamore Partners, seeking greater recovery on their investment. Court documents suggest that Sycamore may have acquired some of Nine West’s assets for less than their true value, according to the papers.