Business

Perry Ellis' founder gets his 'baby' back. He is taking the company private.

George Feldenkreis, in the Perry Ellis headquarters in Doral in 2016. He founded Perry Ellis International, a global apparel company, 51 years ago.
George Feldenkreis, in the Perry Ellis headquarters in Doral in 2016. He founded Perry Ellis International, a global apparel company, 51 years ago. Miami Herald

The founder is getting his baby back: George Feldenkreis has successfully bid to take Perry Ellis International private.

The apparel producer's board announced early Saturday it had accepted his $437 million buyout offer. The news means that the company Feldenrkreis founded 51 years ago as a Cuban refugee will stay in Miami.

Oscar Feldenkreis, George's son, will continue to lead the company as chief executive officer. George will return to an active role in the management of the company.

“I believe this transaction will open an exciting new chapter for Perry Ellis, our customers and employees," George Feldenkreis said in a statement. "The markets the company competes in have undergone transformative changes and I believe that Perry Ellis’ ability to invest and innovate is limited by the short-term pressures of being a public company."

A representative for Feldenkreis said he could not make further statements until the transaction officially closed. In an interview with the Miami Herald last month, Feldenkreis described the company as his "baby" and said that the previous nine months, which saw him removed from Perry Ellis' leadership, had been the most difficult period of his professional life. He said he was seeking to take the company private in order to modernize to face the challenges of the 21st century retail environment.

Feldenkreis, 82, founded the company in 1967 as Supreme International as part of a larger importing venture. The company went public in 1993 and acquired the famed Perry Ellis fashion house in 1999, at which point it changed its name to Perry Ellis International.

Perry Ellis' board unanimously approved Feldenkreis' offer, which valued the companies' publicly traded shares at $27.50. That is a slight discount to Friday's closing price of $27.97, but a 21.6 percent premium to its Feb. 5. share price, when Feldenkreis first announced his offer. The acquisition is being financed by Wells Fargo and Fortress Investment Group, which is providing $282 million in financing.

"Perry Ellis intends to be at the forefront of the crucial digital transformation of the apparel industry from marketing to e-commerce, to applications of artificial intelligence,” Oscar Feldenkreis said in a statement.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the board had been in preliminary talks with other bidders as it considered Feldenkreis' offer. The company did not comment on the outcome of these other negotiations.

"The Special Committee and its advisors conducted a disciplined and independent process to ensure the best outcome to maximize value for shareholders," J. David Scheiner, non-executive chairman of the Perry Ellis board of directors and chair of the bid committee, said in a statement. "We believe, upon the closing, that this transaction delivers an immediate cash premium and is in the best interest of all Perry Ellis shareholders."

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of calendar year 2018.

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