BY Richard Summerfield
Following months of speculation, handbag manufacturer Coach Inc has agreed to acquire rival Kate Spade & Co in a deal worth $2.4bn.
The deal, announced on Monday, will see Kate Spade shareholders receive $18.50 per share in cash, a 27.5 percent premium to the closing price of Kate Spade's shares as of 27 December 2016, the last trading day prior to media reporting of a potential transaction. According to Coach, the deal will be half funded by a combination of senior notes, bank term loans and approximately $1.2bn of excess cash, a portion of which will be used to repay an expected $800m six-month term loan.
By acquiring its smaller rival, Coach is making a concerted effort to appeal to a younger demographic. Kate Spade’s consumers generally skew younger than Coach’s, thanks to the company’s quirkier product line and lower price point. The company has also recently introduced other products, which have appealed to consumers, including kitchen utensils.
Victor Luis, chief executive of Coach, Inc. said, "Kate Spade has a truly unique and differentiated brand positioning with a broad lifestyle assortment and strong awareness among consumers, especially millennials. Through this acquisition, we will create the first New York-based house of modern luxury lifestyle brands, defined by authentic, distinctive products and fashion innovation. In addition, we believe Coach's extensive experience in opening and operating specialty retail stores globally, and brand building in international markets, can unlock Kate Spade's largely untapped global growth potential. We are confident that this combination will strengthen our overall platform and provide an additional vehicle for driving long-term, sustainable growth."
Craig A. Leavitt, chief executive of Kate Spade & Company, said, "Following a thorough review of strategic alternatives, reaching an agreement to join Coach's portfolio of global brands will maximise value for our shareholders and positions Kate Spade for long-term success as we continue our evolution into a powerful, global, multi-channel lifestyle brand. We look forward to working with Coach's leadership team to leverage their expertise across the business as we continue to innovate and build long-term loyalty with consumers and expand across our product category and geographic axes of growth."
The deal, expected to close in the third quarter of 2017, is a strong result for Kate Spade activist investor Caerus Investors, which had pushed the company to put itself up for sale for some time. The investment firm said that though Kate Spade was generating solid growth, it is in need of better management to help boost its profit margins.