Ascena buying owner of Ann Taylor, Loft for about $2.16B

Ascena Retail to Buy Ann Inc for About $2.15 Billion

NEW YORK (AP) — The Ascena Retail Group is buying the owner of Ann Taylor and Loft in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $2.16 billion.

Ann Taylor will join a stable of retail clothing stores owned by Ascena, including Lane Bryant, Justice, Dress Barn and Cacique. Ascena, based in Mahwah, New Jersey, owns about 3,900 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Ann had 1,030 Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Factory, Loft, Loft Outlet and Lou & Grey stores in 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada as of Jan. 31. The retailer posted a surprisingly strong fourth-quarter profit in March after shaking up its lineup. The company is planning to grow its new casual brand, Lou & Grey, by opening more stores this year and launching its own e-commerce website.

Ann shareholders will receive $37.34 in cash and 0.68 of a share of Ascena Retail Group Inc. stock in exchange for each of their shares. The companies put the total price at $47 per share. That's a 21 percent premium to Ann Inc.'s Friday closing price of $38.71.

Ascena and Ann value the deal at approximately $2 billion. Ann shareholders will own about 16 percent of Ascena once the transaction closes.

"The transaction will make us part of a larger organization with a diversified portfolio of brands focused on the women's apparel market, a strong operating platform and a powerful financial base," said Ann CEO Kay Krill in a printed statement.

The buyout, which was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, is targeted to close later this year. The acquisition doesn't require approval by Ascena stockholders.

Shares of Ann Inc., based in New York, jumped $8.44, or 21.8 percent, to $47.15 in premarket trading Monday.
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