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Venator to Sell Its Last Woolworth Stores

NATION / WORLD: RETAILING

September 23, 1998|Bloomberg News

Venator Group Inc. said it will sell its retail chain in Germany, the last of its legendary F.W. Woolworth stores, marking its exit from general merchandise to focus on athletic shoe and clothing stores. The 357-store German chain, Deutsche Woolworth, is being acquired by its management along with Electra Fleming, an international private equity group, for $552 million. Venator also plans to buy back as much as $200 million of its stock, or about 15% of its 135.5 million shares outstanding. The share repurchase will be financed with net proceeds from the German division sale, estimated at $440 million, as well as the previously announced sale of its New York headquarters building, an inventory reduction program and the repayment of short-term debt. The German division sale caps Venator Chief Executive Roger Farah's three-year drive to transform the 119-year-old retailer, formerly known as Woolworth, which couldn't compete with discount chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

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