J. Crew Said to Be Talking With Banks About 2014 IPO

J. Crew Group Inc., the retailer owned by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners LP, is interviewing banks as it weighs an initial public offering in the U.S. later this year, people familiar with the matter said.

With 451 stores and about $2.4 billion in annual sales, J. Crew may fetch a valuation of as much as $5 billion, one of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. That’s almost twice the $2.64 billion value of J. Crew’s buyout by TPG and Leonard Green three years ago.

As shares of retailers trade near record highs, IPOs of these companies have provided large returns for investors recently. Vince Holding Corp., the apparel company backed by Sun Capital Partners Inc., has gained 33 percent since its November debut. Container Store, which is also backed by Leonard Green, is up 85 percent since its October IPO.

Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for TPG, declined to comment on the IPO plans, as did Margot Fooshee, a spokeswoman for J. Crew. A representative for Leonard Green didn’t reply to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

The buyout funds agreed to pay $43.50 a share, or almost $3 billion, for J. Crew in November 2010. Net of cash, the deal value was closer to $2.64 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The takeover drew complaints from shareholders who claimed Chief Executive Officer Millard “Mickey” Drexler didn’t get a fair price for the company.

The investors sued, alleging that Drexler and other J. Crew executives stood to make millions of dollars in the deal, prompting them to only half-heartedly seek higher bids, court papers show. New York-based J. Crew settled the suit for $16 million in addition to $6.5 million in legal fees.

Michelle Obama

The Standard & Poor’s Retailing Index has jumped 35 percent over the last year and reached a record high in December. That’s compared with a 24 percent rise for the S&P 500 Index. The surge has come despite data showing that purchases at U.S. retailers declined in January by the most since June 2012, Commerce Department figures show.

J. Crew, whose customers include U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, has been expanding overseas, with stores in London and Hong Kong. J. Crew estimated that its revenue increased 9 percent to $2.43 billion in the year through Feb. 1, according to a regulatory filing last week, and forecast that its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose to between $369 million and $371 million, from about $360 million a year earlier.

The company is seeking a $1.57 billion loan to refinance debt, working with Bank of America Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on the transaction, a person with knowledge of the matter said last week. TPG and Leonard Green received at least two dividends of about $700 million from J. Crew since December.

The company operates 330 stores under the J. Crew, Crewcuts and Madewell brands in addition to 121 factory stores, the latest filing showed.