Wolverine, Golden Gate to Buy Collective Brands

Wolverine World Wide Inc. (WWW), Golden Gate Capital and Blum Capital Partners agreed to buy Collective Brands Inc. (PSS) and split up the company’s businesses in a transaction valued at about $2 billion including debt.

The cash offer is $21.75 a share and may close in the third quarter or early fourth quarter, the companies said today in a statement. The equity value of the deal would be about $1.32 billion, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

Wolverine, owner of the Merrell and Hush Puppies shoe brands, will gain Collective’s wholesale and retail operations of the Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Stride Rite and Keds brands. Blum Capital and Golden Gate, the San Francisco private-equity firm whose consumer investments have included Eddie Bauer and California Pizza Kitchen, will jointly acquire the operations of Payless ShoeSource and Collective Licensing International, which will operate as a standalone company.

There have been more than 100 apparel and shoe retailer takeovers in the U.S. in the past decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The median buyers paid, based on 16 similar deals in that period, was 7.8 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, Bloomberg data show. Wolverine and its partners are offering 15 times Ebitda for Collective Brands.

Wolverine, based in Rockford, Michigan, fell 2.9 percent to $40.72 at 9:48 a.m. in New York. Topeka, Kansas-based Collective Brands rose 1.9 percent to $21.16.

Shut Stores

Collective said after reporting a $35 million loss in August that it would review strategic alternatives and shut 475 stores in the following three years. The company’s loss for the year ended Jan. 28 was $164.5 million compared with a $112.8 million profit a year earlier.

Payless ShoeSource Inc. became Collective Brands after acquiring Stride Rite Corp. in August 2007. Its retail operations, which included about 3,500 Payless ShoeSource outlets in the U.S. last fiscal year, accounted for about 78 percent of revenue, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The remainder came from its wholesale business, which supplies Saucony, Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite and Keds shoes to retailers.

Wolverine and its partners obtained financing commitments from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and divisions of Wells Fargo & Co.

Perella Weinberg Partners LP provided financial advice to Collective Brands, while Sullivan & Cromwell LLP acted as legal adviser. Wolverine received financial advice from Robert W. Baird & Co. and legal counsel from Barnes & Thornburg LLP. Kirkland & Ellis LLP gave legal advice to Blum and Golden Gate.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lauren Coleman-Lochner in New York at llochner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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