Sources in the footwear industry confirmed Wednesday that Cole Haan is close to finding a buyer this week.
The bidding appears to be down to two private equity firms — TPG Capital and Apax Partners.
But while Reuters reported Monday that Apax was close to a$500 million deal, insiders told Footwear News TPG could still be in the running for the brand that Nike Inc. is seeking to divest.
It is understood the driving force behind TPG’s bid is Matthew Rubel, a senior adviser to the firm who most recently was CEO of Collective Brands Inc. and also is a former CEO of Cole Haan.
Meanwhile, London-based Apax is said to have teamed up with Jack Boys, former chief executive of Converse — another Nike-owned brand — to help run Cole Haan should the deal go through.
At least three industry insiders said they expect TPG to surge ahead with the bid in the final moments.
Speaking only if he would not be named, one insider said he believes “TPG will prevail with Matt Rubel riding back in on a white horse.”
Rubel could not be reached for comment.
Cole Haan generates $518 million in revenues, which is what analysts expect as the possible sale price, based on the strength of the brand.
Last month, Nike sold the Umbro brand to Iconix Brand Group for a figure equal to its topline — $225 million.