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North Face is going private

Aspen Times Staff Report

The North Face Inc. is moving toward private ownership through a buyout of all public stocks by its own chief executive officer and a banking firm that specializes in restructuring companies.According to a company press release, all public shareholders will receive $17 cash per share “as promptly as possible.” Following the repurchase of all public shares, a controlling interest will be held by current North Face CEO James Fifield and Leonard Green & Partners, Limited Partnership.The action is not expected to affect relocation of some of the company’s headquarters to Carbondale, said Jonathan Sokoloff, of Leonard Green & Partners.North Face operations have already moved into temporary buildings in Carbondale while plans to build new facilities are under way. The Town Board will consider on March 9 whether or not to annex the site of the future headquarters.Current plans are to move North Face headquarters from San Leandro, Calif. to Carbondale, bringing as many as 125 positions to the Roaring Fork Valley. Thirty-six acres south of town are being eyed for the new facility. Some operations will remain in California.Since the outdoors/sporting goods manufacturer went public in 1996, sales have grown an average of 29 percent.In order to buy back 12.5 million shares at $17 each (totaling $212.5 million), North Face has arranged a $300 million debt financing package with The Chase Manhattan Bank and Chase Securities, Inc.Leonard Green & Partners is a private Los Angeles-based banking firm that specializes in management buyouts of existing companies. The firm currently manages more than $1.5 billion of private equity capital, including the 61 percent ownership of Colorado-based Gart Sports Co., the country’s second-largest sporting goods retailer.


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