Abercrombie Said to Be Talking to Bidders, Sending Stock Soaring

  • Express, American Eagle said to be in discussions with company
  • Former highflyer, Abercrombie has suffered years of declines

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. rallied the most in more than two months after at least two rivals were said to be discussing a takeover of the ailing chain.

Express Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. are both in merger talks with Abercrombie, according to a person familiar with the situation. The discussions are in an early stage, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

The takeover speculation follows years of Abercrombie struggling to regain its edge. Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie’s once-visionary leader, stepped down in 2014 and the company didn’t fill the chief executive officer job until February of this year. That’s when President Fran Horowitz was elevated to the role.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the talks, sending shares of New Albany, Ohio-based Abercrombie up as much as 13 percent to $14.35. That was the biggest intraday gain since March 2. Prior to the surge, the stock was up 5.6 percent this year.

Representatives for Abercrombie and Columbus, Ohio-based Express declined to comment. American Eagle, located in Pittsburgh, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A highflying retailer in the 1990s, Abercrombie has now suffered four years of flagging sales. The company announced earlier this year that it was cutting 150 corporate-level jobs to help cope with the slump.

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