Leonard Green To Buy Jo-Ann Stores For $1.6B

Target: Jo-Ann Stores

Price: $1.6 billion

Sponsor: Leonard Green & Partners

Target Financial Advisers: Centerview Partners and J.P. Morgan

Target Legal Counsel: Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Thompson Hine LLP

Fabric and crafts retailer Jo-Ann Stores Inc. agreed last month to be bought by an affiliate of private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners for about $1.6 billion in cash, the latest in a flurry of deals in the retail sector.

Leonard Green’s offer at $61 per share is at a premium of 34 percent to Jo-Ann’s close on Wednesday, Dec. 22. In November, Leonard Green, along with the TPG Group, offered to buy retailer J Crew Group Inc. for $2.86 billion.

Going private would help Jo-Ann speed up its expansion and store upgradE plans, leading to market share gains, chief executive Darrell Webb said in a statement. Jo-Ann, which competes with A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts Inc. and privately held Michaels Stores, was not actively seeking a transaction, the company’s lead director Scott Cowen said in a statement.

The Hudson, Ohio-based Jo-Ann has been topping Wall Street estimates in recent quarters. Its shares had gained about 34 percent through Dec. 22, since falling to a low of $34 in December 2009.

The retail sector has seen a slew of private equity deals recently as buyout firms have been under pressure to spend money before their investment periods end. Childrens apparel retailer Gymboree Corp was taken private recently, and there have been reports of possible private equity interest in Build-A-Bear and Aeropostale Inc.

Jo-Ann sells merchandise used in sewing, crafting and home decorating projects. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2011. The company can solicit alternative proposals through February 14.

Centerview Partners and J.P. Morgan are serving as financial advisers and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Thompson Hine LLP as legal advisers to Jo-Ann Stores.

Shares of Jo-Ann were up 33 percent at $60.5 in late December trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by NR Sethuraman of Reuters in Bangalore; editing by Don Sebastian, Prem Udayabhanu.