Legal

Shoe Company Rockport Likely Will Be Sold To A Private Equity Firm

Retailers Speed Through Bankruptcy

The Rockport Group, the ailing comfort shoe company, could soon have a new owner.

Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC, a private equity firm, reportedly emerged as the only bidder in a planned bankruptcy auction for Rockport. Assuming a bankruptcy court approves, Charlesbank will spend $150 million.

Rockport filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year. The company is $287 billion in debt. At the time, Rockport said it planned to close any of its 60 North American retail stores that are not purchased by “stalking horse bidder” Charlesbank or another party. No specific closures were announced at that time, or now.

Rockport bondholders assumed ownership of the company in 2017. Adidas had bought Rockport in 2006 but then sold the company in 2015 to Berkshire Partners and New Balance. “Rockport’s biggest unsecured creditors in bankruptcy include Adidas, which claims it is owed more than $50 million,” a report said.

The sale to Charlesbank would include Rockport’s retail and wholesale businesses, and its operations in Asia and Europe. Retailers in some 60 countries reportedly sell Rockport products.

Charlesbank said it has more than $5 billion under management, and that it focuses on “middle-market” buyout deals. It has stakes in such companies as Princeton Review and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The Rockport news comes as perhaps the most famous retail bankruptcy winds down. Toys R Us has closed its stores even as a former Toys R Us CEO, Jerry Storch, has reportedly been at work on a plan with bankers and investors to revive the retailer. Those discussions are occurring ahead of a planned bankruptcy auction to sell Toys R Us’ intellectual property.

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