NRDC Ups Buying Power With IPO

NRDC Equity Partners, parent of Lord & Taylor, has formed NRDC Acquisition Corp. to raise $360 million for the possible purchase of one or more operating...

Richard Baker right

Richard Baker (right)

Photo By WWD Staff

NRDC Equity Partners, parent of Lord & Taylor, has formed NRDC Acquisition Corp. to raise $360 million for the possible purchase of one or more operating companies.

An initial public offering of 36 million units at $10 per unit began trading on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol NAQ.U on Thursday. Each unit consists of one share of common stock and one warrant to purchase an additional share of common stock at $7.50.

Aside from Lord & Taylor, NRDC recently purchased the Peter Som Inc. designer business and is likely to seek further acquisitions in the fashion and retail industries. The equity player is said to be among the companies that could be interested in Saks Inc., though a Saks deal would require additional funding considering the retailer's revenues are around $3 billion. Baugur Group, an Icelandic investment firm, has taken an 8.1 percent stake in Saks and is a potential suitor as well. NRDC could also pursue a big designer brand.

NRDC Acquisition, in its prospectus, indicates the possibility of seeking additional financing, such as by issuing equity or debt securities, in the event the IPO is insufficient to complete a large deal.

"We're very intrigued with high-quality luxury brands, whether they are retailers or designers who could have their own retail stores, among other things," Richard Baker, chief executive officer of NRDC and chairman of Lord & Taylor, told WWD in an interview last month when the company bought Peter Som.

Asked at the time if he was considering a high-end retail acquisition, Baker replied: "We look at everything. We look at all kinds of different things."

Officials said Thursday that Baker would not comment on NRDC Acquisition due to Securities and Exchange Commission regulations.

NRDC Equity is an investment company pursuing investments in real estate, retail, fashion and manufacturing brands. While homing in on American brands, Baker doesn't exclude going overseas for an acquisition, but he has emphasized that American design talent is where NRDC is most actively searching. The NRDC Acquisition prospectus indicates business targets will not be limited to a particular industry or geographic location, though the initial focus will be on the U.S.

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