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Express sold for $174 million to joint venture that includes three of its landlords

Express has been sold to a consortium led by WHP Global and including Brookfield Property, Simon Property Group and Centennial Real Estate.

Express will live to see another day — thanks in part to three of its key landlords.

 A Delaware bankruptcy court has approved the stalking horse bid from a consortium called Phoenix — led WHP Global and including Brookfield Property, Simon Property Group and Centennial Real Estate — to acquire the struggling apparel retailer, which filed for bankruptcy in April. (In January 2023,  Express and WHP entered into a joint venture.)

The bid, which was for the online and brick-and-operations of Express, consisted of $136 in cash and $38 million in assumed liabilities, WWD reported.  

The transaction is expected to close within the coming week, subject to customary closing conditions. Upon closing, Phoenix will operate the direct-to-consumer businesses of Express and Bonobos in the United States.

In a release, Phoenix said it will serve as a “financially revitalized” DTC retail platform and set the stage for long-term growth for the Express and Bonobos brands. Going forward, Phoenix plans to focus on strengthening the core operations of of the two brands and ensuring the “continuity” of over 450 physical stores and e-commerce operations. Express previously had about 600 stores. 

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In filing for bankruptcy, Express said it planned to close approximately 95 namesake stores, including full-price and factory outlet stores, and all 10 UpWest locations.

“Today’s court approval and the formation of Phoenix marks a vital step in our mission to save Express Inc. and continue serving millions of customers who love the Express and Bonobos brands,” said Yehuda Shmidman, chairman & CEO of WHP Global. “ With the restructuring actions accomplished during the Chapter 11 process, we believe Express is now well-positioned for a powerful path forward, benefiting all stakeholders, including our valued vendor partners, licensees, landlords and dedicated team.”

Simon and Brookfield have previously teamed up to acquire other tenants, including Forever 21and JCPenny.

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