Forever in blue jeans: Levi’s preps an IPO at a $5B valuation

Levi’s preps an IPO at a $5B valuation, its second time going public in its 145-year tenure.

November 16, 2018

Sweet jeans! CNBC reports that Levi Strauss is preparing an IPO that could raise between $600m and $800m at a valuation of around $5B.

And it’ll only be the company’s 2nd time in 145 years

Founded in 1853, the iconic blue jean maker actually went public once before in 1971, completing one of the largest-ever IPOs of its time ($50m).

But profits steadily declined. By 1984, descendants of Levi Strauss took the company private in a $1.7B leveraged buyout, and then did another buyout in 1996 to acquire stock from employees and outside investors.

In doing so, Levi’s took on billions in additional debt right as a little thing called the internet was taking off, keeping Levi’s from making an early dent in the budding e-commerce industry.

Then, in 2011, Chip Bergh came to work wearing jeans

As profit declines lingered, the company’s CEO Chip Bergh devised a strategy to focus on the company’s “profitable core” in order to free up extra cash and lean into its e-commerce biz.

Now, it’s finally starting to see its top and bottom lines rise again. Last year, Bergh led the company to almost $5B in sales (up from $4.4B when he started in 2011), and reported revenue of $1.4B for the quarter ending in August this year, representing a 45% jump YoY.

As far as debt goes, the pant store has cut its massive tab in half over the last 2 years.

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