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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When it comes to retail and private equity, what's old is new again.

Driving the news: Insight Partners this morning announced that it will invest $500 million in the e-commerce business of Saks Fifth Avenue, which will become a standalone company valued at $2 billion. Saks owner Hudson's Bay will retain a majority stake, while Saks president and CEO Marc Metrick will move over to run the new company.

  • Just days earlier, Apollo Global Management agreed to take Michaels Stores private.

Flashback: The idea of hiving off a physical retailer's online biz is familiar to anyone around in the waning days of the last millennium.

  • Take-private buyouts of big box retailers is familiar to anyone around in the "Golden Age" of private equity that drove headfirst into the financial crisis.

Yes, but: This time it's different. Insight's Deven Parekh argues that 1990's splits "were really financial engineering deals" in which the parent companies treated their nascent online businesses as second-class citizens.

  • In terms of Saks.com, the new company will control its own merchandising. It also will get to benefit from the brand halo, without also needing to account for legacy leases.
  • In short, it's a primacy reversal.

Michaels and Apollo both have direct experience with this sort of transaction.

  • For Michaels, that was being bought by Blackstone and Bain Capital in 2006 and then going public in 2014. Both the IPO and the Apollo deal value Michaels below the 2006 buyout price.
  • For Apollo, it was the 2006 buyout of Linens 'n Things (RIP).
  • It’s unclear why either expects better results this time around, save for improved e-commerce strategies, particularly given that the crafting market might have just experienced lockdown-fueled highs.

The bottom line: There are history books for Insight and Apollo to read, really serving as cautionary tales. In the very early going, it feels like Insight has taken its more to heart.

Go deeper

Las Vegas Sands' shake-up on the Strip

A tourist takes a photo of the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. (Photo: Roger Kisby/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Las Vegas Sands is leaving Las Vegas — and effectively, the U.S.

Why it matters: The sale of its properties hints at huge trends reshaping the gaming industry and its defacto home.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

3 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.