Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands said Thursday it is selling the lingerie retailer to a private investment firm for $525 million.
Under the released terms of the deal, Ohio-based Sycamore Partners will own 55% of Victoria’s Secret and L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) would own a 45% stake. Sycamore will then move to take the company private. That brings the total enterprise value of Victoria’s Secret to $1.1 billion.
L Brands’ Bath & Body Works will operate as a standalone company.
“We believe this structure will allow Bath & Body Works — which represents the vast majority of 2019 consolidated operating income — to continue to achieve strong growth and receive its appropriate market valuation,” L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner said, in a news release. “The transaction will also allow the company to reduce debt.”
Why is L Brands Selling Victoria’s Secret Now?
In the last year, L Brands suffered a nearly $300 million net sales loss — a 2% decline. Quarterly comparable sales were down 3% in Q3 2019 compared to Q3 2018.
A bulk of those losses came from the Victoria’s Secret arm of the company.
In 2019, Victoria’s Secret lost 8% in sales and 12% in the third quarter. That’s compared to the 5% year-over-year gain in sales from Bath & Body Works.
As a result of weaker sales expectations from Victoria’s Secret, the L Brands dropped its Q4 earnings guidance to $1.85 per share from $2.
Slumping sales are a primary reason for why L Brands is selling Victoria’s Secret.
“We believe the separation of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty and PINK into a privately held company provides the best path to restoring these businesses to their historic levels of profitability and growth,” Wexner said.
The market value of L Brands has fallen to $7 billion in 2019 from $29 billion in 2015.
Wexler Out As CEO
In addition to taking Victoria’s Secret private and allowing Bath & Body Works to run as a standalone, the deal also pushes Wexner out as CEO.
He will retire once the deal is complete and remain a member of the board as Chairman Emeritus.
Wexner has been hammered of late for his reported ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein managed Wexner’s money in the late 1980s and helped straighten out the finances for a real estate development backed by Wexler in a wealthy Columbus, Ohio, neighborhood.
Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on federal sex trafficking charges, drawing attention to allegations he had sexually exploited women and girls. He killed himself in a New York jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial.
In September 2019, Wexner said being taken advantage of by someone “so sick, so cunning, so depraved is something that I’m embarrassed that I was even close to.”
His retirement will end the reign of the current longest-tenured CEO of any S&P 500 company.
Shares of L Brands were down 0.6% in Thursday morning trading.