| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Crocs Inc (CROX.O), known for its colorful clogs, has hired investment bank Moelis & Co to explore strategic alternatives, including a leveraged buyout, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The company has already held talks with a small group of private equity firms, including Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) and KKR & Co LP (KKR.N), the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are confidential.
Some of the investment firms however have already lost interest in a leveraged buyout because they do not consider a deal to be financially attractive, the people added.
Representatives for Crocs, Moelis, Blackstone and KKR declined to comment.
Crocs' shares rallied after Bloomberg News first reported on the talks and were up 9.5 percent at $13.85 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.
Established in 2002, Crocs sells its shoes, made out of a proprietary closed-cell resin it calls Croslite and offered in more than 300 four-season footwear styles, in some 125 countries, according to its website.
Crocs posted a 2 percent decline in sales for the third quarter, hurt by weakness in the Americas and Japan. The company said it saw less discretionary spending for footwear, apparel and other consumer goods in the United States.
"I wish I could tell you we were expecting a big improvement in consumer confidence in the U.S. throughout the year, but we are not," Crocs Chief Executive John McCarvel told analysts on the company's earnings call last month.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ajit Thomas in Bangalore; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)