Activist investor Engine Capital presses Ann Taylor for sale-WSJ

Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:53am EDT

Aug 25 (Reuters) - Activist Investor Engine Capital LP wants women's apparel retailer Ann Inc to sell itself, which it believes could fetch around $2.5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Engine Capital, which along with a partner controls more than 1 percent of Ann stock, believes a strategic or private equity buyer would be willing to pay between $50 and $55 a share for the women's retailer, the Journal reported. (on.wsj.com/YSWew3)

Ann Inc's shares closed at $37.52 on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Ann, the parent of the Ann Taylor and Loft brands, last week reported a 2.3 pct fall in second-quarter same-store sales, hurt by lower traffic at its Loft chain and said it expected third-quarter same-store sales growth to be flat to slightly negative.

The investors have been in talks with Ann's management for a few weeks but plan to launch a public campaign because they don't believe the company is moving fast enough, the newspaper reported.

Ann, in a written statement, said it was open to communications with its shareholders and that the board and management team were "committed to creating value" for all shareholders, the Journal reported.

Earlier this year, private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital disclosed a 9.5 percent stake in Ann and said it believed the company's stock was significantly undervalued.

Both Ann and Engine Capital were not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours. (Reporting by Arnab Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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