• Perry Ellis is to become a private company through an acquisition led by company founder and former CEO George Feldenkreis.
  • The agreement will see the newly formed Feldenkreis-controlled entity acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Perry Ellis not already beneficially owned by the Feldenkreis family for $27.50 per share in cash.
  • The transaction is valued at about $437m.

US apparel business Perry Ellis International has entered into a US$437m transaction to become a private company through an acquisition led by company founder and former CEO George Feldenkreis.

The agreement will see the newly formed Feldenkreis-controlled entity acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Perry Ellis not already beneficially owned by the Feldenkreis family for $27.50 per share in cash.

The purchase price represents a premium of about 21.6% to Perry Ellis' unaffected closing stock price on 5 February the last trading day prior to Feldenkreis announcing his proposal to take the company private.

The transaction, which is valued at about $437m, was unanimously approved by the Perry Ellis board of directors, acting on the unanimous recommendation of a special committee of independent directors that was granted full authority to conduct a comprehensive strategic review and evaluate and, if warranted, negotiate the Feldenkreis acquisition proposal.

"The special committee and its advisors conducted a disciplined and independent process to ensure the best outcome to maximise value for shareholders. We believe, upon the closing, that this transaction delivers an immediate cash premium and is in the best interest of all Perry Ellis shareholders," said J. David Scheiner, non-executive chairman of the Perry Ellis board of directors and chair of the special committee.

Following completion of the transaction, Oscar Feldenkreis will continue to lead the company as CEP, while George Feldenkreis will return to an active role in the management of the company.  Perry Ellis will continue to be headquartered in Miami, Florida, and upon close, will become a privately held company and Perry Ellis common shares will no longer be listed or traded on any public market.

The transaction will be financed through a senior secured asset backed revolving loan facility underwritten by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., a $282m multi-tranche term financing facility provided by Fortress Credit Advisors LLC and equity provided by the Feldenkreis family.

Expected to close in the second half of calendar year 2018, the deal is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and approvals, including approval by Perry Ellis shareholders (including a majority of the shares owned by shareholders other than the Feldenkreis family or any officers or directors of the company), receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

"I believe this transaction will open an exciting new chapter for Perry Ellis, our customers and employees. The markets the company competes in have undergone transformative changes and I believe that Perry Ellis' ability to invest and innovate is limited by the short-term pressures of being a public company," says George Feldenkreis. "The transaction delivers immediate value to shareholders amid an environment of unprecedented disruption and competition. I am confident that as a private company, Perry Ellis will be best positioned to make investments in digital innovation, artificial intelligence and marketing, that support our long term strategy to grow the company's powerful global lifestyle brands, while expanding into higher-margin businesses and channels of distribution, including international, direct-to-consumer and licensing."

CEO Oscar Feldenkreis added: "Since its founding, Perry Ellis has been a renowned influencer of fashion and a magnet for highly creative individuals and brands. The completion of this transaction will enable Perry Ellis to preserve the integrity of its infrastructure and business units across the United States and abroad. Our partners should benefit from our enhanced ability to make long term investments in brands, technology and innovation while continuing to remain focused on executing on our long term growth strategy.

"Perry Ellis intends to be at the forefront of the crucial digital transformation of the apparel industry from marketing to e-commerce, to applications of artificial intelligence."

Perry Ellis and Feldenkreis have agreed to defer the next annual meeting for the election of directors while the merger agreement is pending