Private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital disclosed a 9% stake in Ascena Retail Group Inc. and said it is in early stages of discussions with the apparel retailer on ways to create value for shareholders.
Ascena, which owns several retail chains including Dress Barn and Lane Bryant, had traditionally been known for serving the retail markets for middle-aged and plus-size women. But the company has further expanded by buying the parent of Ann Taylor earlier this year and also has the tween line Justice.
In a regulatory filing, Golden Gate called Ascena's shares an attractive investment that is significantly undervalued, adding it sees a good opportunity to become a significant shareholder in a "high-quality and well-managed business at a very attractive valuation."
Ascena shares climbed 5.6% to $14.99 after hours and have gained 13% so far this year through Thursday's close.
The private-equity firm, which has a long track record as an investor in retailers, said it hopes to help Ascena achieve its "substantial potential as a public company."
A representative from Ascena wasn't immediately available for comment.
Golden Gate beneficially owns 17.5 million shares in the company, making it the largest shareholder, according to FactSet.
Ascena reached a deal to buy Ann Inc., the parent of Ann Taylor, in May for about $2 billion. Golden Gate was an investor at Ann as well and last year made similar comments about that company being an attractive and undervalued investment. The firms signed a nondisclosure pact last fall.
Golden Gate's other retail investments have included Express Inc., Zale Corp. and Eddie Bauer.
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