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Authentic Brands, Owner of Forever 21 and JCPenney, Files for IPO

Authentic Brands Group IPO
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Authentic Brands Group (ABG) — which has made a name for itself by scooping up bankrupt retail brands such as Forever 21, JCPenney, Aéropostale and Brooks Brothers and bringing them back to life through licensing — is planning to go public.

The company said in a prospectus filed July 6, 2021, that it plans to sell $100 million worth of stock, but that is a placeholder amount and will likely change. Bloomberg News estimated that ABG could be worth as much as $10 billion in its initial public offering.

Founded by current Chairman and CEO Jamie Salter in 2010, ABG makes the bulk of its revenue from licensing its roster of more than 30 brands. In addition to distressed retail brands like Barney’s, Juicy Couture and Nine West, the ABG portfolio also includes the IP of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O’Neill and even the Sports Illustrated media brand. The company said in its filing that it generates approximately $10 billion in GMV annually through its network of more than 700 licensing partners globally.

Through its SPARC Group joint venture with mall owner Simon Property Group, ABG has acquired companies including Lucky Brand, Nautica, Brooks Brothers, Forever 21 and most recently Eddie Bauer. In June 2020, ABG also bought fellow brand management company PVH Corp.’s heritage brands Van Heusen, Arrow and Geoffrey Beene.

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“We bring a fundamentally different approach to the brand business,” said Salter in a letter contained in the SEC filing. “ABG deconstructs and reconstructs the traditional model, owning only the brands, creating a decentralized network of best-in-class partners to execute the rest of the value chain. We are brand owners, curators and guardians. We don’t manage stores, inventory or supply chains. We don’t manufacture anything. We are a licensing business and are purely focused on brand identity and marketing.”

According to Salter’s letter, the company’s asset-light model allows it to “stay ahead of the distribution curve” and “drive a flywheel of successful revenue and brand growth that fuels free cash flow to invest in additional brands.”

ABG had net income of $225 million in 2020 on total revenue of $489 million, according to the SEC filing. The company plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker AUTH.

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