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JV closes $1.1bn Lord & Taylor acquisition

The partnership between NRDC and Apollo has also hired Christina Johnson, the former chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue, in the latest example of top retail talent making the jump to private equity.

NRDC Equity Partners, a joint venture between the principals of National Realty & Development Corp. and Apollo Real Estate Advisors, has closed on its acquisition of the Lord & Taylor chain from Federated Department Stores in the latest in a long string of retail deals by private equity firms.

The partnership has also hired Christina Johnson, the former chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue, as an NRDC managing director  with a focus on retail and consumer investments.

The joint venture bought Lord & Taylor for approximately $1.1 billion (€870 million) from Federated, which acquired May Department Stores and the brands under its umbrella, including Lord & Taylor, last year.

Johnson, who will sit on Lord & Taylor’s board, brings with her extensive contacts in the retail world, which should allow the venture to further develop its retail platform, Richard Baker, the president of NRDC partners said in a statement.

Before purchasing Lord & Taylor, the partnership had already been active in the sector. It acquired home goods retailer Linens ‘N Things for $1.3 billion in February, lost out on Toys “R” Us to consortium of investors including KKR, Bain Capital and Vornado Realty Trust, and also bid on the Pathmark grocery chain and discount retailer Burlington Coat Factory.

Other private equity shops have also been active in the higher-end of the spectrum, with Warburg Pincus and Texas Pacific Group acquiring department store chain Neiman Marcus for $5.1 billion late last year.

Other private equity owners have also enticed experienced retail executives to join their operations or run their newly acquired portfolio companies. In the case of Toys “R” Us, the consortium brought in Gerald Storch, a former Target president credited with developing some of the Minnesota-based retailers key success strategies, to spearhead the effort to turn the ailing toy giant’s fortunes around.

NRDC Partners targets companies in the retail, leisure, lodging and commercial real estate sectors.