Leslie Wexner is selling over 30 million shares of L Brands Inc. — valued at $2.2 billion — just as Victoria’s Secret prepares to step out on its own.
While Wexner, 83, will continue to own 5 million shares of L Bands after a secondary offering as well as a buyback, the move marks another parting of the ways for the former chief executive officer and the company he founded in 1963.
Wexner was once seen as one of the very few “merchant princes” in fashion, and was given hearty credit for pioneering specialty retailing and for building Victoria’s Secret into a powerhouse with its bombshell Angels.
But Victoria’s Secret fell out of sync with consumers and came under fire for forwarding an unrealistic standard of beauty and sexuality, and Wexner also took heat for his former ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who once was a close confidant of the billionaire’s and helped manage his money.
Victoria’s Secret is now seeking to turn the page — and decisively.
The company ditched the Angels in favor of marketing featuring models of all shapes and sizes and next month it will be spun off from Bath & Body Works, splitting L Brands into two companies, each set to follow their own path forward.
The future, for sure, is looking brighter for the brand than it did.
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The retailer had been set to be taken over by Sycamore Partners — but the private equity sued and succeeded in getting out of the deal early in the pandemic. Since then, the business has changed tack and seems to be picking back up. For the nine weeks ended July 3, Victoria’s Secret tallied sales of $1.1 billion, nearly twice the $625.7 million logged a year earlier, and 3 percent ahead of the same period in 2019.
Wexner is also turning the page.
The company said a secondary offering for just over 20 million shares held by Wexner and his wife, Abigail, priced at $74.50 per share — an aggregate price of $1.49 billion. That process is expected to close on Monday, after which, the company plans to purchase 10 million additional shares held by the Wexners at a price of $73.01, a total price of $730.1 million.
In May, Wexner stepped down from the company’s board.
“L Brands is at a terrific place in its history,” Wexner said at the time. “I am more confident than ever that we have very positive momentum as we approach the planned separation into two businesses. Now is an ideal time for Abigail’s and my transition from the board.
“When I retired from the business last year, I said that creating this business and working with so many talented associates, literally millions of them, was a source of great pride,” he said. “I am deeply honored to have been a part of the lives of so many associates and customers since I first opened the doors.”
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