Lululemon Founder Sells Half His Stake In The Company For $US845 Million

Lululemon Athletica founder Dennis “Chip” Wilson will sell half his stake in the company as part of a truce that averts a potentially messy battle at the maker of yoga apparel and other exercise gear.

Under the deal announced Thursday, investment firm Advent International will pay Wilson $US845 million for 20.1 million shares. That will whittle Wilson’s stake in Lululemon from nearly 28% to just under 14%.

Wilson had lashed out at Lululemon’s board in June, raising the possibility of an attempt to oust some directors or a hostile takeover attempt.

Advent instead will get two seats on Lululemon’s board, bringing back two investors who had previously been directors at the Vancouver, British Columbia, company. They are: David Mussafer, Advent’s managing partner and Steven Collins, Advent’s managing director.

Advent, based in Boston, had worked closely with Wilson previously. The firm was a major investor in Lululemon before selling its stake in the company in 2009.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with David and Steven, who have significant specialty retail experience and are deeply familiar with Lululemon’s unique culture,” Lululemon Chairman Michael Casey said.

Mussafer, who will become Lululemon’s co-chairman along with Casey, also sits on boards of retailers Charlotte Russe and Five Below, as well as mattress manufacturer Serta Simmons.

Besides being a director at Charlotte Russe and Five Below, Collins is on the boards of Party City and fast-food chain Bojangles.

Lululemon has been trying to bounce back from a backlash triggered last year by yoga pants that were so sheer that they revealed a little too much for many galled customers. Fixing the problem cost the company millions and made investors question quality control, contributing to a steep decline in Lululemon’s stock price. The company’s shares have fallen by more than 40 per cent since the March 2013 uproar over the transparent pants.

Investors seemed heartened by Advent’s intervention as Lululemon’s stock gained $US2.12, or 5.4 per cent, to $US41.15 in extended trading after Wilson’s sale was announced. Advent is paying Wilson roughly $US42 per share for half of his stake in the company.

Wilson aggravated Lululemon’s headaches late last year when he suggested in a television interview that fat thighs caused some yoga pants to be too sheer. He later apologized in a video posted on YouTube and Facebook.

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