Stuart Weitzman Sale: The Latest Buzz

Speculation heated up today that a Stuart Weitzman sale is getting closer.

A week after reports suggested that Brown Shoe Co. and Coach could both be interested acquirers, private equity firm Advent International Corp. is the latest name in the mix.

WWD reported that all three firms have moved into the current round of bidding and are conducting due diligence. (Sycamore Partners acquired the brand as part of its $2.2 billion Jones Group deal earlier this year.)

Of the three potential acquirers, Brown could make the most sense. For one thing, CEO Diane Sullivan, who is dramatically transforming the firm, has been open about her desire to build the company into an even bigger powerhouse. The accessible luxury space — Weitzman’s sweet spot — would also be a natural arena for Brown to target, given its licensing deals with brands like Vince.

But for all the bidders, price will be a major factor in negotiations. While some sources had suggested that Weitzman could sell for as much as $1 billion, insiders close to the company said that was unrealistic. Now financial sources are pegging the value of a deal from about $600 million to as much as $800 million.

Another major element is Weitzman himself, who has been central to the brand’s success. While the deal is in Sycamore’s hands, it is critical that the founder is on board with any transaction.

As the year comes to an end, sources said a deal could be in place before 2015, but it might not be hammered out before the new year.





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