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Kimmel's Jones Group sold to Talbots owner

Sycamore gets Anne Klein, 9 West, Weitzman, Vanderbilt

Jones Group, the women's clothing wholesaler and retailer started by Philadelphia investor Sidney Kimmel in the late 1960s and run from offices in New York and warehouses in Bristol, Bucks County, has agreed to be bought by Sycamore Partners, a New York buyout firm, for a disappointing $15 a share, payable in cash when the deal is approved by shareholders. The stock traded at $18 as recently as August, as activist investors pushed for a sale and the company hired investment bankers.

Sycamore bought the rival Boston-based Talbots chain last year and Hott Topic stores earlier this year. Jones employs around 6,000. In a note from the buyers last night, workers were told there were no plans to close facilities or cut jobs.

Jones operates Anne Klein, Jones New York, Nine West, Stuart Weitzman, Easy Spirit and Bandolino stores, among others. The chain told investors back-to-school and fall sales were slow this year. The company also sells clothing lines for designers like Rachel Roy, Robert Rodriguez and Kurt Geiger, brands including Robbi + Nicki, Gloria Vanderbilt and Papagallo, among others, see list here.

The sale values Jones stock at $1.2 billion. Sycamore will also take on Jones' $1 billion in debt. Jones' major owners include Dimensional, Bank of New York Mellon, BlackRock and other investment groups. Kimmel, who founded the company 45 years ago, own more than 3 million shares, or nearly 3% of the total, and plan to vote in favor of the dea, which the buyer hopes to close by summer. Shares topped $47 back in 2001, and fell briefly below 2003 in the 2008 financial meltdown.

"The Jones Group's brands will thrive through our partnership with Sycamore," founder Kimmel said in a statement announcing the deal. He cashed out much of his earlier holdings, and embarked on a second career as a donor to Philadelphia's South Broad Street performing arts center and other philanthropies, in the years after Jones' initial public stock offering in 1991.

"As a private company, Jones will have the flexibility to help our brands reach their true potential," Card said in a statement announcing the deal. "We look forward to a successful partnership," added Stefan Kaluzny, managing director of Sycamore Partners.