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Bain-Backed Catalog Retailer Bluestem Brands Said to Seek Buyers

Bluestem Brands Inc., which sells cosmetics and home goods to low- and middle-income customers through websites and catalogs, is working with Lazard Ltd. as it explores a sale, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Eden Prarie, Minnesota company may fetch as much as $1 billion in a sale, two of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. It has drawn early interest from private-equity funds and publicly traded special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, two people said, without identifying any potential bidders.

Bluestem said last week that it notched its fourth consecutive year of double-digit revenue growth, reporting 2013 sales of $839 million, an increase of 20 percent from the year-earlier period. The company canceled an initial public offering in November 2011 in which owners including Bain Capital Partners LLC and Battery Ventures were seeking a valuation of over $500 million.

Alex Stanton, a spokesman for Bain Capital, and Clare Pickett, a spokeswoman for Lazard, declined to comment on the possible sale, which was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal. Representatives at Bluestem and Battery Ventures didn’t return calls and e-mails seeking comment.

SPACs, which are publicly traded, offer companies a route to the stock market without having to go through the process of an IPO. Burger King Worldwide Inc., one of the world’s largest fast-food chains, returned to a listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012 through a merger with Justice Holdings Ltd., a London-based SPAC owned by investor William Ackman.

Bluestem offers a broad selection of merchandise from cosmetics to home goods through and The company also provides financing as part of the business model. The business started in 1948 selling basic home furnishings through newspaper advertisements, according to its website.

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