June 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

The urge to merge

Bed, Bath & Beyond buys Cost Plus, and Golfsmith finds a buyer.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Lead Photo

Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. broadened its definition of "beyond" last month, announcing it will acquire Cost Plus Inc., a multichannel retailer of furniture, home decorative products and gourmet foodstuffs.

Under the terms of the deal, Bed, Bath & Beyond will purchase all outstanding shares of Cost Plus common stock for about $22 per share, or about $495 million. The two largest shareholders include investment banking firms Red Mountain Capital Partners LLC and Stephens Investment Holdings LLC, which collectively own about 26% of Cost Plus, the retailer says.

The board of directors for each company has approved the deal, and it is expected to close by the end of this month. Cost Plus CEO Barry Feld earlier this year shared ambitious plans to grow e-commerce and the retailer's goal of generating annual web sales of about $100 million by 2017. "Our e-commerce model is profitable," Feld said during a conference call with analysts. E-commerce accounted for 2.7% of Cost Plus' total sales last year, growing 53.8% from $16.9 million in 2010 to $26.0 million in 2011.

New in town

In other merger news, Canadian specialty golf retailer Golf Town announced last month it will acquire U.S. specialty retailer Golfsmith International Holdings Inc., which sells online at Golfsmith.com, through 78 Golfsmith stores and a catalog. Golf Town has e-commerce operations and 50 stores in Canada but no transactional e-commerce presence in the United States. Golf Town entered the U.S. last year by opening six stores in the Boston area.

The companies say the deal will create the world's largest specialty golf retailer. The purchase is subject to regulatory approval but is expected to close in the third quarter. The firm that owns Golf Town, Omers Private Equity, would not confirm reports that the deal is worth nearly $97 million.

"Golfsmith is a company that we have admired for years," says Don Morrison, senior managing director of Omers Private Equity. "This transaction will give us a formidable footprint in North America and will also provide a strong platform for future growth."



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