Digital Transformation

Blackstone Buys Majority Stake in SPANX, Inc.

SPANX
  • Companies align to help empower women globally
  • The acquisition will accelerate SPANX’s already rapid digital transformation and expansion of its global footprint across more categories
  • Transaction led by all-female Blackstone investment team
  • Blakely to become Executive Chairwoman of newly appointed board of directors

SPANX, Inc., the mission-driven womenswear brand founded by Sara Blakely in 2000, today announced a definitive agreement for a majority investment from funds managed by Blackstone (“Blackstone”), a leading global investment business. The firm has agreed to buy a majority stake in the company at a valuation of $1.2 billion – with Blakely maintaining a significant equity stake in the business. Blakely, along with SPANX’s existing senior management team, will continue to oversee daily operations, and at closing, Blakely will become the Executive Chairwoman. The acquisition will enable SPANX to accelerate its already rapid digital transformation and strong online presence in the e-commerce channel, expand its global footprint, and fuel its commitment to creating innovative, ground-breaking products for its customers across even more categories. The companies intend to create an all-female SPANX board of directors as they align to help empower women globally.

This acquisition is the culmination of an unprecedented journey for Blakely and SPANX. SPANX was founded by Blakely 21 years ago when she took $5,000 in savings and set out to take on the male-dominated shapewear and undergarment industry. Blakely, who had never taken a business class in her life and was selling fax machines door to door at the time, wrote her own patent and invented the first SPANX undergarment in her apartment. Without ever taking any outside investment, she went on to turn SPANX into a global powerhouse that has changed the lives of women all over the world. Blakely has been named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world and was featured on the cover of Forbes magazine as the youngest self-made female billionaire. Through her personal foundation, Blakely has given millions of dollars to help elevate other women and in 2013 she signed the Giving Pledge, promising to donate half her wealth to philanthropy.

“This is a really important moment in time for female entrepreneurs,” Blakely said. “I started this company with no business experience and very little money, but I cared the most about the customer, and that gave me the courage to launch the company. At SPANX, we have always put the customer at the center of what we do. I am as excited today for the future of SPANX as I was when I started it 21 years ago. Now together with Blackstone, we will have even more opportunity to further our mission of making the world a better place… one butt at a time!”

Ann Chung, Global Head of Consumer for Blackstone Growth (BXG), said: “Sara is an iconic businesswoman who bootstrapped SPANX into not only a category creator and household name, but also a symbol of authenticity, confidence building and female empowerment. We’re honored that Sara and her team have placed their trust in Blackstone as their partner of choice to further accelerate SPANX’s digital transformation and growth, and look forward to what the business will achieve with our full set of resources behind it.”

Chung continued: “On a personal level, I am deeply proud to have led an all-female Blackstone investment team in this partnership with Sara and her accomplished female senior management team. We’re also excited for SPANX to join Blackstone’s growing investment portfolio of highly successful female-founded businesses.”

Today’s investment in SPANX is the most recent example of a number of innovative female-founded companies Blackstone is proud to back. This includes in just the last two years Bumble, the online dating app where women make the first move founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd; Hello Sunshine, the mission-driven media company that puts women at the center of every story it creates, founded by Reese Witherspoon; Hotwire Communications, a leading provider of cutting-edge fiber-based telecommunication services co-founded by its CEO Kristin Johnson; and GeoComply, a global leader in geolocation compliance technology, co-founded by its Chairman Anna Sainsbury. This is in addition to female-led technology businesses in which Blackstone has invested such as Ancestry.com, Articulate, and Ellucian.

Blackstone will be making its investment in SPANX through its Blackstone Growth (BXG) and Blackstone Tactical Opportunities businesses. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

SPANX was represented by Goldman & Sachs and Allen & Co. in the transaction, with legal representation from Cravath, Swaine and Moore. King & Spalding served as Blakely’s legal advisor. Blackstone’s financial advisor for the transaction was JPMorgan and legal advisor was Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

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