Talbots to Buy J. Jill (TLB, JILL, LIZ)

Includes: JILL, KATE, TLB
by: Andrea Wasserman

Back in November, contemporary retailer J Jill (ticker: JILL) rejected a takeover offer from apparel behemoth Liz Claiborne (ticker: LIZ). Today, J. Jill announced it has agreed to be acquired by classic retailer Talbots (ticker: TLB). The Wall Street Journal Online reports (sub req):

The deal unites two venerable names in women's retailing and could help answer Wall Street's questions about where Talbots, the far larger of the two Massachusetts-based companies, can find room to grow. Last week, Talbots said sales for its fiscal year ended Jan. 28 increased 7%, with sales at stores open at least a year posting a smaller 2.6% gain...

J. Jill, primarily a catalog retailer until it began opening stores in 1999, has been plagued with poor results over the past two years. Last month, J. Jill said fourth-quarter sales at stores open at least a year likely decreased by 3%, below its expectations. Talbots on Monday said it agreed to acquire J. Jill for $24.05 a share, a 25% premium over Friday's Nasdaq closing price. J. Jill's shares fell 10 cents Friday to $19.20 apiece.

The deal has been approved by the boards of both Talbots and J. Jill.

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