The deal, which could still fall apart, may be announced as early as next week, said the person, who declined to be identified because the talks are private.
Nike, the world’s largest athletic-shoe maker, announced in May it was trying to sell the Cole Haan and Umbro brands. The sales are part of Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker’s push to focus on the business units with the most growth potential and profitability.
“We don’t have any specifics to share other than to say we’re continuing the process of identifying buyers for Cole Haan and preparing the businesses for sale,” Mary Remuzzi, a spokeswoman for Nike, said in an e-mailed statement. “The sale process is on track, with multiple prospective buyers.”
Todd Fogarty, a spokesman for Apax at Kekst & Co., declined to comment. The talks were reported earlier by Reuters.
The Cole Haan unit increased revenue 2.7 percent to $535 million in the year ended May 31. During the same period, Nike boosted total sales 16 percent $24.1 billion. The division had 178 stores, including 109 U.S. locations.
The Umbro and Cole Haan units had a combined loss of $43 million before interest and taxes in fiscal 2012 and would lose as much as $75 million if owned for all of fiscal 2013, Nike has said.
Apax has experience in retail and fashion with a previous investment in the Tommy Hilfiger lifestyle brand. Apax bought Tommy Hilfiger in 2006 for about $1.6 billion and then sold it to Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. for about $3 billion in 2010.
Iconix Brand Group Inc. (ICON) last month agreed to buy the Umbro sports apparel and footwear unit for $225 million in cash, and the deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
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