Chico’s FAS Inc. shares jumped the most in eight months after the Wall Street Journal reported that private-equity firm Sycamore Partners is in advanced talks to buy the women’s apparel chain.
Sycamore has been seeking financing for a buyout, the Journal said, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the talks. The report sent shares of Chico’s up as much as 8.1 percent to $18.65 on Wednesday, the biggest intraday gain since June 10. The stock had declined 14 percent last year.
Sycamore, based in New York, has gained a reputation as an acquirer of slumping retail companies. Still, an earlier attempt to buy Express Inc. fell apart in January after the firm struggled to line up financing at acceptable terms. Sycamore, started in 2011 by two executives from Golden Gate Capital, previously acquired a stake in Aeropostale Inc. and extended a $150 million loan to the teen retailer.
Chico’s, which had a market value of $2.6 billion as of Tuesday’s close, would be the biggest deal yet for Sycamore. The firm purchased Hot Topic Inc. for about $533.5 million in 2013 and was in talks to buy Billabong International Ltd. before discussions broke off. The firm, which oversees more than $3.5 billion in capital, also purchased Talbots Inc. in 2012.
Lynn Willis, a representative for Fort Myers, Florida-based Chico’s, didn’t respond to a request for comment.