Payless and Keds to be split in $1.32 billion buyout

(Reuters) - The maker of Hush Puppies is teaming up with two private equity firms to buy Collective Brands Inc PSS.N in a $1.32 billion deal that will split Collective's shoe brands from its Payless ShoeSource retail business.

Wolverine Worldwide Inc WWW.N, along with Blum Capital Partners and Golden Gate Capital, will pay $21.75 for each Collective Brands share — a 4.7 percent premium to the stock's close on Monday.

The deal will see Blum Capital and Golden Gate take over Payless ShoeSource, one of the largest footwear retailers in the world, and Collective’s international licensing business. The businesses together had sales of about $2.4 billion last year.

“The Payless business’ operating margins are still well below historical levels and private equity typically can improve efficiencies and margins so the deal makes a lot of sense,” Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co analyst Jim Chartier said.

Collective’s remaining businesses, consisting of the Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Stride Rite and Keds brands, will stack up with Wolverine Worldwide’s brands like Merrell, Hush Puppies, and Caterpillar Footwear.

Wolverine, which reported fiscal 2011 sales of $1.41 billion, said the addition of the acquired brands will create a company with annual sales of $2.5 billion.

The company’s long established distribution relationships and international infrastructure will help Collective’s brands grow faster in international markets, Wolverine CEO Blake Krueger said on a call with analysts.

Analyst Chartier said the deal gives Wolverine, which has one of the best international distribution networks, an opportunity to grow sales by taking Sperry and Saucony overseas.

Collective Brands, led by CEO Michael Massey, is in the midst of a turnaround and said in August it would close nearly 500 Payless stores over the next three years.

The stock, which has doubled since the company announced it would conduct a strategic review in August, has been recently propped up by media reports linking South Korean retailer E-Land and Wolverine with takeover interest in Collective Brands.

Wolverine said the deal, seen closing later this year, will have a minimal impact on its 2012 results, but is expected to add 25 cents to 40 cents per share to its earnings in 2013.

Including debt, the deal is valued at about $2.0 billion.

Perella Weinberg Partners and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP advised Collective Brands, while Wolverine Worldwide was advised by Robert W. Baird and Barnes & Thornburg LLP. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is the legal advisor to Blum Capital and Golden Gate Capital.

Collective Brands shares were trading at $21.18 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Mihir Dalal and Ranjita Ganesan; Editing by Joyjeet Das