Designer Kenneth Cole to take Namesake Company Private

(Reuters) – American clothing designer Kenneth Cole will take his eponymous fashion house private for $15.25 per share, slightly more than he had offered in February.

The offer, which is 17 percent higher than the stock’s trading level prior to the designer’s initial $15 per share offer and just 5 percent more than its Tuesday closing, values Kenneth Cole Productions Inc at about $280 million.

When Cole, who holds a 46 percent stake in the company, initially offered to take the company private at price substantially lower than the $50 levels that the stock traded at in the early 2000s, investors had hoped for a much higher bid.

“It is a disappointment – the shareholders endured literally a lost decade. While PVH, Coach, Michael Kors went absolutely bonkers and grew their business, Kenneth Cole did nothing,” said Shawn Kravetz of Esplanade Capital.

“When things finally started to turn, Mr. Cole offered a skimpy premium. The special committee did precious little,” said the investor, who sold his stake in the company for just above $16 per share in March.

The company, founded in 1982, has been reeling under competitive pressures, with sales declining in the last two quarters.

The mid-grade fashion house — which sells footwear, handbags, apparel and accessories under the brand names Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Unlisted and Le Tigre — has also closed stores to flush out excess inventory.

Designer Cole, who serves as the chairman and chief creative officer, will acquire the company through KCP Holdco Inc, an entity created for the purpose of acquisition.

The company’s shares were trading at $15.06 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Juhi Arora and Phil Wahba; Editing by Viraj Nair)

Image Credit: Kenneth Cole