Claire’s loses another buyout suitor

The troubled auction of Claire’s Accessories, a US-based fashion retailer, has reportedly suffered another blow with news that previous favourite Apax Partners has withdrawn on price grounds.

UK buyout firm Apax Partners has reportedly become the latest group to pull out of the $3 billion (€2.3 billion) auction for US fashion retailer Claire’s Accessories.

Apax had been considered favourite to win the auction, which is being run by Goldman Sachs. However, according to the London-based Times newspaper, the buyout firm is thought to have decided that the $3 billion price tag is too high, and pulled out of the process.

Claire’s Accessories

The sale of Claire’s was expected to complete early this year, but the auction has dragged on as bidders have withdrawn because the price was climbing too high. The Blackstone Group and Texas Pacific Group are just two of the firms that have decided not to bid for the company in recent weeks.

However, the paper stressed that Apax could return to the process if the price drops. The buyout firm would be looking to add to its extensive portfolio of retail investments on both sides of the Atlantic, which include fashion label Tommy Hilfiger, clothing retailer New Look, and supermarket group Somerfield.

The Times reports that Apollo Management and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts are still in the hunt for Claire’s. KKR is currently on a retail shopping spree – it is also involved in prospective £10 billion (€14.6 billion; 19.5 billion) bids for health and beauty chain Alliance Boots and supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, either of which would be the largest buyout in Europe to date, plus a $7.3 billion deal for US discount chain Dollar General.

Claire’s, which operates nearly 3000 stores in North America and Europe, hired Goldman Sachs to review its strategic options last year amid slowing sales growth.