Sycamore Said Near Purchase of Lingerie Brand Hunkemoeller

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Sycamore Partners, a U.S. private equity firm, is nearing an agreement to buy Dutch lingerie brand Hunkemoeller from PAI Partners, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Sycamore had been competing against other buyout firms including Carlyle Group, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Hunkemoeller may fetch about 440 million euros ($482 million), one of the people said. Talks are ongoing and could still fall apart.

European private-equity firms have been busy exiting investments, but have struggled to find new targets, with deal volumes almost unchanged from the previous year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. PAI, a Paris-based buyout firm, bought Hunkemoeller, the largest lingerie brand in the Benelux region and Germany, in 2010 for 265 million euros.

Spokesmen for PAI Partners and Sycamore Partners declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Hunkemoeller.

Deals involving private equity buyers or sellers in Europe totaled about $166 billion this year, compared with $168 billion in the same period last year, the data show.

Hunkemoeller was founded in 1886 in Amsterdam by Wilhelm Hunkemoeller and his wife Josephina Lexis, and now has about 2,700 employees and more than 600 stores in 16 countries, according to the company’s website.