Fast Retailing, E.Land interested in buying J.Crew -sources

Sat Mar 1, 2014 1:54am EST
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By Soyoung Kim and Olivia Oran

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing Co Ltd (9983.T: Quote) and South Korean fashion conglomerate E.Land Group are separately exploring a deal for large U.S. apparel chain J.Crew Group Inc, people familiar with the matter said.

J.Crew, which was taken private by TPG Capital LP and Leonard Green & Partners LP for $2.8 billion in 2011, believes it should fetch at least $5 billion in any sale, one of the people said.

It was not yet clear whether either Japan's Fast Retailing or Korea's E.Land have held any substantial discussions with J.Crew about a deal.

E.Land, one of South Korea's largest fashion and retail companies, is in talks with potential partners, which could include an Asian trading house, for a joint J.Crew bid, a second person said.

While there is takeover interest from other companies as well, owners of J.Crew are not necessarily committed to pursuing a sale of the company, the people added. TPG and Leonard Green are in the early stage of exploring exit options for J.Crew, including an initial public offering, and have yet to make a decision on the timing and avenue of a potential exit, the people familiar with the matter said.

All the people asked not to be named because the matter is not public.

A Fast Retailing spokesperson said the company does not comment on speculation. Representatives for J.Crew and E.Land did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Leonard Green and TPG declined to comment.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on Friday that J.Crew is in talks to sell itself to Fast Retailing for as much as $5 billion, citing a person familiar with the matter, saying the Japanese retailer approached J.Crew's management this week about potentially buying the company.   Continued...

An employee of Fast Retailing Co, operator of the Uniqlo budget fashion chain, is silhouetted in front of its logo at its headquarters in Tokyo October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon