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Top of the Morning
The BFD: J. Jill preps IPO
J. Jill, a Quincy, Mass.-based women's apparel retailer acquired less than two years ago by TowerBrook Capital Partners, has filed for a $100 million IPO (that number is likely as placeholder). It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol JILL, with BofA Merrill Lynch serving as lead underwriter.
Why it's the BFD: These are tough times for mall-based retailers, but J. Jill seems to be bucking the broader trends. The company reports a 10% compound annual growth rate for its most recent fiscal year, as sales climbed from $562 million to $617 million (albeit without taking the 2016 holiday season into account). Moreover, this appears to be a real turnaround success for TowerBrook. It's also bucking J. Jill's own history over the past decade, which has included a failed IPO attempt and multiple sales at depressed valuations. For example, Golden Gate Capital paid just $75 million for the business in 2009, three years after Talbots had paid $500 million.
Bottom line: "While many companies in the IPO pipeline have opted for outright sales instead, an IPO is a better option for J. Jill as there are few corporate buyers with the appetite and wherewithal to pull off a takeover, several people said. Even private-equity firms who scour the landscape for such deals have been wary of buying niche clothing sellers." ― WSJ