Owners of Neiman Marcus Sell Chain for $6 Billion


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News broke on Monday that private equity firms TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus will sell their luxury chain Neiman Marcus to Ares Management and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board for $6 billion.

TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus purchased the chain in 2005 for $5.1 billion, and have held on to it for much longer than the 3-5 years that is typical in the investment business.

In June, the chain announced that it had filed for a $100 million IPO. The decision to enter into a private sale, thus essentially ending plans for the IPO, may have been made amidst fears that current market conditions wouldn't favor an IPO, according to Michael Appel, who runs the retail consultancy Appel Associates.

Not surprisingly the chain, which specializes in upscale goods from designers such as Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and Rebecca Minkoff, took a hit in the recent recession. According to Mark Cohen, a business professor at the Columbia Business School and former CEO of Sears Canada, the recession is likely why TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus held onto the chain for so long: "I think they were itching to get out," Cohen says. "They would have exited sooner if not for the onset of the recession."

Luxury sales are expected to grow this year, although at a slower rate than in the past. That means it's a relatively good time for the TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus team to unload its investment.

The company's Twitter stream is unperturbed by the announcement, and instead dominated by news of what is perhaps the biggest fashion event of the year in the US: New York Fashion Week.

The Dallas, TX-based retailer currently operates 79 stores. That number includes 41 Neiman Marcus stores, 2 Bergdorf Goodman stores in Manhattan, and 36 Last Call outlet centers. It's been beefing up its online presence in recent years to cash in on the ever-growing numbers of online shoppers. The company's online division includes the upscale Horchow housewares site.