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The Deal: Wet Seal Sale Awaits as Turnaround Continues

Stocks in this article: WTSL

Despite the company's struggles, another person familiar with the situation said its turnaround is working as it opens new stores, including outlets, has a strong management team in place and a healthy balance sheet. 

And as of Aug. 3, the company said it had nearly $80 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments and no debt. 

At one point, Clinton Group had advocated for a sale of the company. 

"From a strategic-buyer perspective, the company has a fantastic footprint - it's in the best malls and has the best locations inside the malls," Greg Taxin, Clinton Group's managing director, told The Deal last August. 

Taxin said at the time that the company could be a bargain for a PE buyer. "We also believe there is and will continue to be private equity interest - the business used to do $60 million of EBITDA, but it's underperformed lately." 

And, in July 2012, Clinton Group senior portfolio manager Joseph De Perio suggested in a report that Wet Seal could fetch $5 to $8 per share. 

Sources told The Deal last fall that investment bank Peter J. Solomon Co. LP was fielding offers for the company. 

By the fall of 2012 the hedge fund was more interested in stabilizing the company, hiring an executive who could return the teen fixation to a position of strength. 

KarpReilly Capital Partners LP, which not only was a bidder for Charlotte Russe, but hired former Wet Seal CEO Ed Thomas, who is a partner at the firm, has looked at the company in the past, sources said. 

Another potential bidder could include Advent - especially given the Goodman relationship. Other private equity firms that are known for investing in troubled retailers include Sun Capital Partners Inc., Golden Gate Capital and Sycamore Partners.

Wet Seal's 60-day moving average share price was $3.60 as of Thursday; its market capitalization was about $304.4 million.

Written by By Richard Collings.

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