Golden Gate To Sell Shares In Express Inc.

Golden Gate Capital is selling down its stake in trendy clothing retailer Express Inc. in a public stock offering, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 22.

San Francisco-based Golden Gate, Limited Brands and other shareholders plan to sell 16.5 million shares in a public offering, according to the filing. Golden Gate owned approximately 43 percent of the company as of March 11, while Limited Brands owned about 14 percent.

Express sells “must-have looks” such as the “button-front safari jacket” for him and “chiffon overlay racerback tanks” for her, among hundreds of other products. The company operates nearly 600 stores, usually located in shopping malls, in the United States and Puerto Rico.

It’s unclear how much of a stake Golden Gate will maintain following the offering, though the prospectus notes that the firm “will continue to have a substantial influence on our affairs and its voting power will constitute a large percentage of any quorum of our stockholders voting on any matter requiring the approval of our stockholders.”

It looks like Golden Gate is trying to capitalize after Express posted fourth-quarter profit numbers that beat Wall Street expectations. The company reported net income of $48.4 million in the three months ended Jan. 29, up from $46 million for the same period last year, according to the Associated Press. Quarterly revenue grew by 14 percent to $621.5 million as revenue at stores open at least one year rose by 12 percent, according to the AP.

Golden Gate bought 75 percent of the company from Limited Brands in July 2007 for $484.9 million. Since then, the company says it’s implemented numerous initiatives to improve its business, such as consolidating separate women’s and men’s stores located near each other into dual-gender stores, expanding the number of styles and designs it offers, and placing increasing its focus on long-term brand-building initiatives.

Golden Gate and Limited Brands took Express public last year, though it was something of a flop. In its opening day of trading, the company raised $167 million on 16 million shares that opened at $17 each but closed the day at $16.75 a share. The company’s shares have ranged from $12.89 to $19.18 over the past year, according to the AP.

Still, it appears Golden Gate has made out handsomely. By the time of the IPO, the firm had already recovered its investment by taking $556 million in dividends, according to the New York Post.