Private-equity firms have waited for this moment: Mike Jeffries is no longer in the retailing business.

The controversial chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. retired today, clearing the way for any suitors interested in the teen retailer. Jeffries, 70, was long seen as an obstacle to a takeover. At least one buyout firm considered a deal before walking away over concerns about his leadership, a person familiar with the matter said in 2012. For buyers wanting to take another look, the stock is just as cheap now.

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