Cerberus Enters Fray for Rent-A-Center: Sources
The battle continues.

Buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management LP is among the companies entering the final round of bidding to buy activist-targeted Rent-A-Center (RCII) , according to a person familiar with the situation.

The private equity firm joins buyout shop Vintage Capital Management and possibly other bidders, who are reviewing the rent-to-own retailer's books. TheStreet's sister publication, The Deal, had reported earlier this week, citing sources, that a sale of the business is likely to be announced in a month or two.

In October, Rent-A-Center said it had retained JPMorgan Securities LLC and was launching a process to explore strategic alternatives, a move that came five months after activist Glenn Welling and his fund, Engaged Capital LLC, succeeded at installing three dissident director candidates to the company's board.

People familiar with the situation note that the review really didn't get underway until the company's chief executive, Mark Speese, who was not supportive of a sale, left in January. Speese was replaced in the CEO role by Mitch Fadel, a director and former RCII president who was installed on the company's board in June as part of Engaged Capital's slate of director candidates. Another opponent to a sale, Rent-A-Center's ex-chairman, Steven Pepper, resigned in October.

And while there is no assurance that a sale will go through, sources familiar with the situation noted that initial bids were due in February with final offers expected this week.

Some investors have expressed concern that Vintage Capital, which owns rival rent-to-own retailer Buddy's Home Furnishings, may have a difficult time raising capital to finance a publicly-disclosed bid for Rent-A-Center. However, a person familiar with the situation noted that Vintage has raised sufficient capital, which has been vetted by the team overseeing the auction process, and has advanced to the next round of bidding. The person also said he expects a deal of some sort to be consummated in the next month or two.

Editor's note: The full version of this article was published by The Deal, a sister publication of TheStreet that offers sophisticated insight and analysis on all types of deals, from inception to integration. Click here for a free trial.

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