Talbots Shares Dive as Talks With Sycamore End

Shares of Talbots Inc plunged as much as 36 percent on Friday after exclusive negotiations with Sycamore Partners ended without an agreement for the private equity firm to buy the women's apparel retailer, which can now look for other deals.

Talbots said it remains open to pursuing a transaction with Sycamore at $3.05 per share, which would values the retailer at around $215 million, if the private equity firm can provide certainty over closing the deal and financing commitments. Talbots said Sycamore was not ready make a deal at this time.

The parties' exclusivity agreement expired on Thursday.

Shares of Talbots, which is looking for a successor to its current chief executive, dipped as low as $1.64 in morning trading and later traded at $1.75, down 31 percent.

Talbots, which has about 540 stores in the United States and Canada, posted a slightly higher adjusted first-quarter profit on Friday as it worked on managing discounts, costs and inventory.

Cash-strapped Talbots, once a popular destination for its classic fashion, has been consistently lagging competitors Ann Inc and Chico's FAS Inc. Its sales have fallen five years in a row.

Talbots put itself up for sale and opened its books to Sycamore in January, shopping for a higher bid after rejecting the private equity firm's initial offer of $3 per share.

Talbots is looking for a successor to outgoing CEO Trudy Sullivan, who unsuccessfully tried to reignite growth at the chain with new store formats and cost-cutting.

Excluding certain items, adjusted earnings from continuing operations rose to $6 million, or 9 cents per share, in the first quarter ended on April 28, from $5.3 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.

Sales fell 8.4 percent to $275.9 million, due in part to store closures. Comparable sales, which look at year-over-year changes at existing operations not slated to close, fell 3.8 percent.

Talbots has closed 90 locations so far and plans to close about 110 in all.

Talbots' board is being advised by Perella Weinberg Partners and White & Case LLP.