* Offer price at 34 pct premium to Wednesday's close
* Transaction to close by first half of 2011
* Says can solicit other bids till Feb 14
* Shares up 33 percent
(Recasts; adds details, updates share move)
BANGALORE, Dec 23 Fabric and crafts retailer
Jo-Ann Stores Inc JAS.N agreed to be bought by an affiliate
of private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners L.P for about
$1.6 billion in cash, the latest in a flurry of deals in the
Leonard Green's offer at $61 per share is at a premium of
34 percent to Jo-Ann's close on Wednesday.
In November, Leonard Green, along with the TPG Group,
offered to buy retailer J Crew Group Inc JCG.N for $2.86
Going private would help Jo-Ann speed up its expansion and
store upgradation plans, leading to market share gains, chief
executive Darrell Webb said in a statement.
Jo-Ann, which competes with A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts Inc
ACMR.O and privately held Michaels Stores, was not actively
seeking a transaction, the company's lead director Scott Cowen
said in a statement.
The Hudson, Ohio-based Jo-Ann has been topping Wall Street
estimates in recent quarters. It's shares had gained about 34
percent till Wednesday, since falling to a low of $34 last
The retail sector has seen a slew of private equity deals
recently as buyout firms have been under pressure to spend
money before their investment periods end.
Childrens apparel retailer Gymboree Corp GYMB.O was
taken private recently, and there have been reports of possible
private equity interest in Build-A-Bear (BBW.N) and Aeropostale
Inc ARO.N. [ID:nSGE69A16C]
Jo-Ann sells merchandise used in sewing, crafting and home
The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2011.
The company can solicit alternative proposals through February
Centerview Partners and J.P. Morgan are serving as
financial advisers and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Thompson
Hine LLP as legal advisers to Jo-Ann Stores.
Shares of Jo-Ann were up 33 percent at $60.5 Thursday
morning on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by NR Sethuraman in Bangalore; Editing by Don
Sebastian, Prem Udayabhanu)