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The Deal: Coldwater Creek Taps Perella After Drawing Bid Interest

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Coldwater Creek (CWTR) said this week that it hired Perella Weinberg Partners to conduct a strategic review.

The move comes after the retailer received interest over the summer from private equity firms that invest in turnaround situations, according to a person familiar with the situation.

According to the company, comparable store sales declined in the first quarter and have worsened since then. Executives now expect third-quarter results to fall short of guidance.

The source said Coldwater Creek, with a market cap below $50 million, no longer sees the need to be public. The company's situation is comparable to that of Talbot's, which was acquired in May 2012 by private equity firm Sycamore Partners LLC for about $370 million last year, including debt.

Private equity firms with interest in distressed retailers have shown interest in the women's apparel retailer, the source said.

According to another person familiar with the matter, the company's board has been hunting for a turnaround adviser for at least the past few weeks to allow the management team to focus on day-to-day operations. This person notes that the fourth quarter, with its holiday sales, is crucial for the retailer and its potential turnaround.The company's efforts should focus on logistics and real estate, the second source suggested.

The first source said Coldwater Creek's trouble does not put the company in danger of having to file for bankruptcy. Instead, the women's apparel retailer simply wants to go leave the public market.

There is no timetable for the review, the company said in its statement, and options could include, but are not limited to, partnerships, joint ventures or a sale or merger.

The company had $17 million in cash and $83 million in debt, as of Aug. 3, and a market cap of nearly $39 million, giving it an enterprise value of about $105 million.

For the 2013 fiscal year ended Feb. 2, it had revenue of about $742 million and negative Ebitda of roughly $17 million. That is an improvement over fiscal 2012 when it had negative Ebitda of nearly $34 million and revenue of about $773 million.
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