Specialty retailer Eddie Bauer Holdings is to be taken private in a deal agreed today (13 November) with two private equity firms.

The acquisition by Eddie B Holding Corp, a company owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners, Inc and Golden Gate Capital, includes a price of about US$286m and the assumption of about $328m of debts.

The deal represents a 12% premium over the average closing share price of Eddie Bauer in the last four weeks, and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2007.

Eddie Bauer CEO Fabian Mansson said: "We believe that the transaction will provide Eddie Bauer with new resources and the time necessary to execute our turnaround strategy.

"We look forward to partnering with Sun Capital and Golden Gate, who bring extensive experience in the retail and catalogue sectors, to take our company to the next level and to capitalise on the potential of the Eddie Bauer brand."

Sun Capital managing director Gary Talarico added: "We are pleased to join with Golden Gate Capital in signing this definitive agreement to acquire one of the best known brands in the apparel industry.

"We are particularly excited about the combination of the considerable experience of our respective firms in retailing, apparel and direct marketing and look forward to working with the management of Eddie Bauer to continue the success and growth of the brand."

Sun Capital's current affiliated portfolio companies include Mervyn's, Shopko Stores, Lillian Vernon, Marsh Supermarkets, Anchor Blue Retail Group, Dim Branded Apparel, and Most.

Among Golden Gate Capital's current investments is Catalog Holdings, a $1.1bn-revenue direct marketer of women's apparel whose brands include Spiegel, Newport News, Appleseed's, Norm Thompson, Drapers and Damons, Venus, and Haband, among other titles.

1920-established Eddie Bauer sells casual sportswear and accessories for the modern outdoor lifestyle. The firm used to be owned by Spiegel, which filed for bankruptcy protection back in March 2003.