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Oaktree invests USD200m in WHP Global

WHP Global (WHP), a new brand management platform led by Chairman & CEO Yehuda Shmidman has launched backed by a USD200 million equity commitment from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management (Oaktree). 

WHP was founded to acquire and manage multiple global consumer brands, leveraging a shared platform to unlock competitive advantages at scale and fuel growth for each distinctive brand in its portfolio. The Company plans to deploy up to USD1 billion in capital over the next five years.  

The Company also today announced its first acquisition with the purchase of global fashion brand Anne Klein from Premier Brands Group. An iconic legacy women’s fashion brand founded in 1968, Anne Klein serves women around the world with classic American style. The brand currently generates over USD700 million in global retail sales with product distributed by best-in-class partners including Steve Madden for footwear and handbags, Kasper Group for sportswear, and E. Gluck for watches.

“The seismic changes in the retail industry have created a unique opportunity for us to form a fresh platform,” says Yehuda Shmidman, WHP Chairman and CEO. “Together with the strength of Oaktree, we have the pipeline, team and capital to leverage this opportunity and scale.”

Prior to WHP, Yehuda Shmidman held several c-suite roles in the brand management industry, where he raised and invested nearly USD2 billion of institutional capital in fashion, home, entertainment and consumer brands.  He is the founder of Wave Hill Partners, a corporate business development advisory firm, and currently serves as Vice Chairman for the parent company of Toys”R”Us.

“With a strong track record of successfully identifying and growing global consumer brands, Yehuda and his team are the right partners to build WHP and develop a robust portfolio of consumer brands, optimised to operate in today’s retail landscape, as well as into the future,” says Thomas Casarella, Managing Director at Oaktree and member of the WHP Board of Directors.

“With its extensive heritage and strong sales base, Anne Klein is the perfect brand to kick off the WHP portfolio. We believe there is ample opportunity for even further growth and look forward to supporting this iconic brand’s next chapter,” adds Ted Crockin, Vice President at Oaktree and member of the WHP Board of Directors.

As part of WHP, Anne Klein will sharpen its focus on driving growth with key retailers in the US, including Macy’s, as well as identifying new categories and expanding globally. WHP plans to invest significantly in marketing, social media and digital commerce to drive increased brand engagement.

Ralph Schipani, CEO of Premier Brands Group, says: “The Anne Klein brand is in good hands, and we are excited to continue our involvement as a long-term licensee for multiple categories including sportswear and jewelry.”  Schipani adds, “The divestiture aligns with our focus of being a leading wholesaler of women’s apparel, jeanswear, and accessories to major U.S. and international retailers.”

In connection with the Anne Klein transaction, Pryor Cashman LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP served as legal advisors to WHP Global and affiliates, and Guggenheim Securities and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP served as financial and legal advisor, respectively, to Premier Brands Group. Debt financing for the acquisition was provided by BlackRock Private Credit, including TCP Capital Corp., BlackRock Capital Corp. and certain private investment funds.

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