L Brands in the US agreed to sell a controlling stake in its Victoria’s Secret brand to private equity firm Sycamore Partners in a deal that values the lingerie brand at $1.1bn (€1bn).
Sycamore Partners agreed to buy 55% of Victoria’s Secret in the transaction. The lingerie brand, which will include the Pink line of young-adult focused underwear, will become a private company. L Brands will retain a 45% minority stake, while Bath & Body Works will be a public standalone company, L Brands said.
L Brands also said billionaire founder Leslie Wexner will step down as chairman and CEO. Mr Wexner, 82, the longest-serving chief executive officer on the S&P 500 Index, will be chairman emeritus, remaining on the board of L Brands.
“I think about the endless possibilities ahead for this company. And I’ve thought about where I fit in the picture,” Mr Wexner said in the message to employees.
The transaction follows years of scandal and slumping sales at the lingerie chain. The firm has struggled to mend an image tarnished by allegations of misogynistic culture under Ed Razek, its controversial former chief marketing officer, as well as lingering questions about Mr Wexner’s relationship with late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Mr Wexner says Epstein defrauded him.
Victoria’s Secret, still tied to the push-up bra aesthetic the company projected for many years, has lost ground to competitors.