Ascena Targets Working Women With $2B Deal

Owner of Lane Bryant adds Ann Taylor and Loft brands, creating a firm with more than 4,900 stores.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMay 18, 2015

Ascena Retail Group announced Monday it is adding more women’s clothing brands to its corporate wardrobe by acquiring Ann Inc. for roughly $2.16 billion in cash and stock.

The deal unites the Ann Taylor and Loft brands with Ascena’s Lane Bryant, Maurice’s and Justice chains, creating a company with more than 4,900 stores focused on women’s clothing and accessories.

“This powerful transaction joins two strong and highly complementary organizations and management teams and dramatically reinforces our leadership position in women’s specialty apparel retailing,” Ascena CEO David Jaffe Monday said in a news release.

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“With the addition of the Ann Taylor and Loft brands, Ascena will become one of North America’s largest and most diversified specialty apparel retailers, with a tremendous set of opportunities to continue to expand its leadership position in the women’s apparel market,” he added.

Under the terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of the year, Ann stockholders would receive $37.34 in cash and 0.68 of a share of Ascena common stock, in exchange for each share of Ann common stock.

Based on the closing price of Ascena stock on May 15, this implies a price per share of $47, a 21.4% premium over the closing price of Ann shares on that day. When the deal is completed, Ann stockholders would own roughly 16% of Ascena.

Ascena said it had identified $150 million in annualized run rate synergies in sourcing and procurement, distribution, logistics, and other efficiencies that it expects to generate over a three-year period after the deal closes. Additionally, it expects the combination to generate significant cash flow.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Poonam Goyal predicted the addition of Ann Taylor’s stores would give Ascena access to more young, career-oriented customers.

“They don’t have that right now,” Goyal told Bloomberg. “More women are entering the workforce and achieving high positions. That’s a good place to be.”

But Bloomberg noted that “Workplace attire has become more casual, giving women have less need to buy the business suits that had been Ann Taylor’s calling card. And millennials have largely shunned stores that cater to older professional women.”

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