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[August 04, 2009]

Eddie Bauer sale to Golden Gate completed [BC-EDDIEBAUER:SE]

(Seattle Times (WA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SEATTLE _ Bellevue, Wash.,-based retailer Eddie Bauer said Tuesday that it has completed its previously announced sale to San Francisco private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital.

Eddie Bauer said it will operate as a privately held company, keep open most of its 370 stores in the United States and Canada, and retain the majority of its work force, including management.

Golden Gate won a bankruptcy-court auction last month with a $286 million cash bid for Eddie Bauer, agreeing to operate all but 70 of its stores.

The private-equity firm indicated its support for a two-year-old effort, begun by Chief Executive Officer Neil Fiske, to return Eddie Bauer to its active-outdoor roots.

"We are very pleased to acquire the Eddie Bauer operations and to partner with the existing management team in continuing to restore and rebuild this iconic brand," Golden Gate managing director Stefan Kaluzny said in a statement.

Since 2003, Golden Gate has made 20 purchases of multichannel retailers and consumer products companies, including women's clothiers Express and J.Jill. All told, its apparel companies have sales of $4 billion, 1,250 stores covering nearly 10 million square feet, and e-commerce and direct-sales operations of more than $1.5 billion, Golden Gate said.

Founded in 1920 in Seattle, Eddie Bauer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection in June, citing a crushing debt burden and the impact of the recession.

Its sale to Golden Gate means it can emerge from bankruptcy with "a much stronger balance sheet, little or no long-term debt and a substantially lower cost structure," the retailer said in a statement.

___ (c) 2009, The Seattle Times.

Visit The Seattle Times Extra on the World Wide Web at Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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