Liz Claiborne sells brand portfolio to JCPenney for $288 million

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Liz Claiborne Inc. agreed to sell the Liz Claiborne, Monet and Kensie brands, and completed the sale of the Dana Buchman brand, for total cash proceeds of approximately $328 million, Liz Claiborne Inc. CEO William McComb said during an Oct. 13 conference call.

JCPenney will purchase the Liz Claiborne family of brands and the Monet brand for $288 million in cash, including an advance of $20 million in exchange for the company's agreement to develop exclusive brands for JCPenney.

“The performance of the Liz Claiborne and Claiborne brands at JCPenney have consistently exceeded our high expectations,” Myron E. Ullman III, chairman and CEO of JCPenney, said in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, JCPenney will acquire the worldwide rights and intellectual property for the entire Liz Claiborne brand portfolio and Liz Claiborne must change its name within the next 12 months.

JCPenney said it expects to retain the 35-person Liz Claiborne design team, said Rebecca Winter, corporate communications director at JCPenney. She would not provide additional comment.

The transaction is expected to close within 30 days.

Kohl's has acquired the Dana Buchman brand. The Kensie brand will be sold to Bluestar Alliance in a transaction that is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2011. Both acquisitions total $40 million, though the exact price of each acquisition is unclear.

Liz Claiborne Inc. will now focus on the Kate Spade, Lucky Brand and Juicy Couture brands, McComb said during the conference call.

He added that Liz Claiborne expects 2011 net debt of $270 million to $290 million after closing on the transactions. It is unclear if any layoffs will come as a result.

“We've been carrying too much debt. We need to bring down our debt and thereby de-risk our company,” he said. “We will now be completely intent on building out and achieving the growth potential of our three U.S.-based direct brands.”

Liz Claiborne, Kohl's and Bluestar Alliance representatives did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment.

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