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The Deal: Jones Group, or Buyers, May Entertain Sale of Its Parts

NEW YORK ( The Deal) -- If it doesn't get attractive offers to sell the whole company, apparel maker Jones Group Inc. (JNY) will likely still choose to sell off parts of the company, according to industry sources.

The New York-based apparel company is working with financial adviser Citigroup Inc. on a strategic review. Though the company would prefer a straightforward sale, the parts may be worth somewhat more than the whole, sources said.

Sycamore Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) were reported by The Wall Street Journal to be considering teaming up to make a bid for Jones.

But were they to enter a bid, the private equity firms could also be considering what they might jettison down the road at Jones to help shore up the company's troubled operations. And those parts had better have a lot of value as separate entities, since Jones is already trading at a valuation that is a high multiple of EBITDA.

Jones' EBITDA was $230 for 2012, with EBITDA for 2013 estimated to come in at nearly $260 million, according to Bloomberg data. Total debt of $950 million as of July 6, added to a current market cap of $1.12 billion, equates to an enterprise value of nearly $2.1 billion. That's a valuation multiple of about 9.1 times trailing EBITDA and about 8.1 times forward EBITDA. It is, however, 10.5 times EBITDA of nearly $200 million generated for the last 12 months as of July 6. Even a slight premium to its current valuation would make it one of the more expensive deals in the sector this year.

Granted, multiples for mature retailers have reached into the double-digits, as in the case of Saks (SKS), which Hudson's Bay Co. bought in July for $2.9 billion. Saks was rewarded with a multiple of 11.2 times forward EBITDA and 10.7 times trailing EBITDA, but the luxury department store retailer is sitting on about $1.5 billion in real estate.

Leonard Green & Partners and TPG Capital's 2010 $2.86 billion deal for J.Crew Group valued that retailer at 10 to 12 times EBITDA.

Dutch, parent of brands Joie, Current/Elliott and Equipment, sold a stake in the business to private equity firm TA Associates on Jan. 10. The deal valued the company at $500 million to $600 million, or around 10 times to 12 times EBITDA, which was roughly in the vicinity of $50 million, according to sources.

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