Rue21 Prices High IPO

(Reuters) Youth apparel retailer rue21 Inc (RUE.O), which operates 500 stores in the United States geared at youths, priced shares in its IPO at $19 apiece, above the expected range of $16 to $18.

The retailer sold 6.77 million shares, raising a total of $128.5 million.

The Warrendale, Pennsylvania-based retailer itself is selling 1.65 million shares in the offering, while stockholders such BNP Paribas North America (BNPP.PA), are selling 6.77 million shares. rue21 will use its share of the proceeds to pay down debt, according to a regulatory filing.

Funds advised by private equity firm Apax Partners, which are the largest stockholders, are not selling any shares in the IPO. Their stake in rue21 will fall to 57.9 percent from 62.2 percent.

The underwriters, which include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs & Co and J.P.Morgan, have the option to buy another 1 million shares.

rue21’s same store sales, or sales at stores open for at least a year, rose 4.1 percent in the six months ended Aug. 1, 2009, while overall sales rose 33.3 percent to $233.1 million, with net income of $8.3 million.

Shares are set to begin trade on Friday on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “RUE.”

(Reporting by Phil Wahba and Clare Baldwin, additional reporting by Megan Davies; Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Bernard Orr)