February 1, 2012, 10:35 AM

Talbots treed by investment bank Sycamore?

The apparel retailer and the investment firm discuss a possible sale.

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Talbots and Sycamore Partners are negotiating a possible acquisition.

Specialty apparel retailer The Talbots Inc. and Sycamore Partners Management LLC have signed a confidentiality agreement to negotiate the possible sale of Talbots.

Sycamore, an investment banking firm, made an offer in December to acquire all outstanding shares of Talbots stock for $3 per share in a deal valued at around $205 million. Talbots rejected the offer as too low and said at the time it would continue to pursue long-term options to prop up flagging sales. Sycamore already owns 10% of Talbots.

For the first three quarters ended Oct. 29, Talbots, No. 112 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, reported:

  • The Internet accounted for 77.2% of year-to-date direct sales compared with 70% in the prior year. Based on those metrics Internet Retailer calculates that web sales declined year over year 0.5% to $118.3 million from $118.9 million.
  • Total revenue declined 7.5% to $851.9 million from $920.5 million in the first three quarters of 2010.
  • Direct marketing sales declined year over year 9.8% to $153.3 million from $169.9 million.
  • Net loss was $38.6 million compared with net income of $13 million in the first three quarters of 2010.

Talbots announced in December that Trudy Sullivan, the company’s president and CEO, plans to retire once the retailer’s board of directors names her successor.

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