May 31, 2012, 12:08 PM

The on-again, off-again deal to acquire Talbot’s is finally on

Sycamore Partners will purchase Talbot’s for $369.0 million, including debt.

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Just a week after a New York  investment banking firm said it was walking away from a deal to acquire women’s apparel chain retailer The Talbot’s Inc., the transaction is now complete.

Sycamore Partners has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Talbot’s, No. 127 in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 500 in a deal valued at about $369.0 million, which includes absorbing the retailer’s debt of about $172 million. Without debt, the deal for Talbot’s is valued about $197.0 million or $2.75 per share of the company’s common stock

Sycamore Partners’ new deal to purchase Talbot’s is less than the offer Sycamore rescinded on May 25 of about $205.0 million, or around $3 per share,  to make the acquisition and about 7% less than Sycamore’s original offer of $212.0 million in December. Talbot’s rejected the first offer from Sycamore, which already owned about 10% of the retailer’s common stock, saying it wanted to analyze other strategic options.

Talbot’s and Sycamore didn’t say why a final price was agreed on just a week after Sycamore said it was withdrawing its offer and breaking off talks. But likely factors are the company’s ongoing financial problems and weak sales.

Talbot’s posted higher net income in the first quarter ended April 28, but direct market sales, which include catalog and web, declined 5.8% to $57.0 million from $60.5 million in the first quarter of 2011 while total sales decreased year over year 8.4% to $275.9 million from $301.3 million. Comparable-store sales decreased 2.2%.

For the full year ended Jan. 28, Talbot’s reported:

  • Web sales declined 4.8% to $154.0 million from $161.8 million in 2011. The company doesn’t break out quarterly e-commerce revenue figures.
  • Direct market sales declined year over year 10.5% to $198.4 million from $221.7 million.
  • Total sales decreased 5.8% to $1.14 billion from $1.21 billion in 2011.
  • Net loss was $111.9 million compared with net income of $10.8 million in 2011.

Sycamore’s deal to acquire Talbot’s is expected to be completed by the end of September

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