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Simon Property and Authentic Brands consider buying Forever 21

Forever 21
Customers enter the Forever 21 store at Santa Monica Place.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Mall owner Simon Property Group is considering a bid to buy Forever 21 Inc., the bankrupt teen retailer that’s running out of money and time, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Simon would pair with Authentic Brands Group LLC to buy and operate the stores and the brand, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The talks are continuing, and there’s no guarantee that the various sides will agree on terms or that a sale will result.

Representatives for Los Angeles-based Forever 21 and Simon didn’t respond to messages seeking comment, and Authentic declined to comment.

Forever 21 was talking about selling a stake to Simon and its other largest landlord, Brookfield Property Partners LP, before it filed for bankruptcy in September, Bloomberg previously reported. Talks broke down and the company had to seek court protection without a reorganization plan in place.

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Nearly a decade ago, before Instagram influencers existed, Forever 21 helped teen girls dress like their favorite celebrities, for cheap.

The chain has since struggled to raise money to exit bankruptcy, with potential lenders and buyers balking because of poor sales and the founding Chang family’s insistence on maintaining control.

Forever 21 told suppliers in recent weeks that it’s short on cash and that it could be forced to liquidate if a buyer doesn’t emerge. It asked them in a letter to ship goods on credit while talks continue with a potential buyer, which it didn’t name.

The retailer is unable to borrow more money, and “therefore is turning to you in an effort to continue operating,” Forever 21 said in the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Bloomberg. Failure to find a new owner could force it into liquidation, the company wrote. Forever 21 expects to provide information on the potential buyer in the coming weeks, according to the letter.

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The bankrupt retailer proposed to give suppliers half of what they’re owed in cash for goods delivered between Jan. 20 and Feb. 4. They’d be paid in the week following receipt of the goods.

The other 50% of the payment owed would be deemed an unsecured “superpriority” administrative claim in the company’s bankruptcy proceedings, ranking behind Forever 21’s lenders for repayment.

The arrangement would need approval from a judge overseeing the bankruptcy case.


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