Exclusive: Shoe retailer Stuart Weitzman to go on auction block - sources

NEW YORK Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:59pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Women's shoe retailer Stuart Weitzman is preparing to launch a sale process and has tapped investment banks Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Citigroup Inc (C.N) to assist with the effort, people familiar with the matter said.

The New York-based retailer could fetch a price well below $1 billion, two of the people said this week. Others said the ultimate sale price could be around $800 million.

Sycamore Partners, the New York-based private equity owner of Stuart Weitzman, acquired the brand as part of its $2.2 billion purchase of Jones Group Inc earlier this year.

The people asked not to be named because the plans are not public. Representatives for Sycamore Partners, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

A Stuart Weitzman representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The planned divestiture of Stuart Weitzman comes as Sycamore Partners is seeking to bulk up elsewhere and eyeing a few takeover targets.

The buyout firm has held talks to buy regional discount store operator Fred's Inc (FRED.O), Reuters reported last month. Memphis-based Fred's has a market capitalization of around $590 million.

A takeover of Fred's would represent a new strategy for Sycamore, which until now has invested solely in apparel and footwear companies, including Aeropostale Inc (ARO.N), Coldwater Creek, Hot Topic, Jones New York and Talbots.

Sycamore is also attempting to take over women's apparel retailer Express Inc (EXPR.N).

(Reporting by Olivia Oran and Mike Stone in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Tom Brown)

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