AEA To Buy Garden Ridge From Three Cities

Target: Garden Ridge

Price: $750 million, plus debt

Sponsor: AEA Investors

Seller: Three Cities Research

Three Cities Research may finally sell Garden Ridge after a dozen years.

AEA Investors is in talks to buy Garden Ridge, according to sister news site peHub, which cited Thomson Reuters LPC and Standard & Poor’s LCD. The mid-market buyout firm is expected to pay $750 million for Garden Ridge and is in the market for a $250 million loan, LCD said. The deal also includes an $80 million revolver and $85 million of mezzanine debt, LCD said. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS are launching the loan, according to LCD.

Equity will account for more than half of the financing, while management and Three Cities are rolling over a significant portion of their equity, LCD said. Standard & Poor’s says AEA is buying 60 percent of Garden Ridge.

Houston-based Garden Ridge is a big-box home decor retailer that sells items like rugs, furniture and wall art. In 2004, Garden Ridge filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At the time, the company operated 35 home decor stores in the South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Garden Ridge now has 50 stores in 18 states. Revenues for the LTM period ended April 30 were $338 million, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Three Cities, a New York buyout firm, invested in Garden Ridge in 1999, according to the firm’s Web site. It’s unclear how much the firm put into the retailer. Three Cities has about $700 million under management.

AEA, by comparison, has about $3.6 billion in invested and committed capital. The firm raised a $600 million mezzanine fund in 2005, a $300 middle market debt fund in 2007 and, in 2004, a $285 small business fund. AEA invests in consumer products, industrial, specialty chemicals and services in these sectors, according to the firm’s web site.

Officials for Three Cities and AEA could not be reached for comment.

(Luisa Beltran is a senior writer for peHub.)