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Founder Chip Wilson Sells Half His Stake in Lululemon

in Business of Yoga, YD News

chip-wilson-apologyWell he’s not totally out and he’s not buying the whole company back, instead Chip Wilson is selling 50 percent of his 27 percent stake in Lululemon to a private equity firm for a sweet $845 million. We’re thinking that’s at least a few pairs of yoga pants, a new publicity coach to prevent further snafus and a nice vacation to China to improve factory worker conditions.

Via The New York Times:

The agreement ends a monthslong standoff between the high-end yoga clothing firm and its founder, one in which Mr. Wilson publicly voiced his dissatisfaction by voting against the reappointment of two of his fellow directors.

The spat between Lululemon and its founder arose after a controversy surrounding one of the company’s best-selling products: The retailer was forced to recall yoga pants made from a fabric known as Luon after customers complained that the bottoms were too sheer.

Asked about the problem, Mr. Wilson said that “some women’s bodies just actually don’t work” for yoga pants. It was only the latest instance of Mr. Wilson’s taking fire over controversial statements that he has made on matters like birth control and Japanese customers’ pronunciations of the company’s name.

Last December, he stepped down as chairman after apologizing for some of his remarks.

Under the terms of the deal reached Thursday, Mr. Wilson, known as Chip, will sell half of his roughly 27 percent stake in the company to Advent International, a private equity firm, for $845 million. The retailer will also give Advent — which had previously invested in the company — two director seats, expanding the board to 12 members.

…In return, Advent and Mr. Wilson have agreed not to wage a proxy fight for two years.

Though they’ve lost some love in the stock market and investors are all WTF with founder Chip Wilson causing trouble (is he the problem or the solution?), Lululemon is still kicking. And with their new cozier partnership with Yoga Journal, which itself is also on the revamp with a new Editor in Chief and recent shake up letting go of several senior longstanding employees at the magazine, sheerly, it will be interesting to see how this all comes out in the wash.

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5 comments… add one

  • S.

    Well Chip, you certainly cashed in on yoga now didn’t you?

  • paul

    “Mr. Wilson, known as Chip” is a beautiful phrase, but don’t believe the hype: ahimsa is still the ground and door to yoga.

  • What is in my wallet? Never have purchased anything from LuLu. Likelihood that I ever will is nil. Didn’t realize the connection of LuLu and YJ. Contemplating canceling my subscription and sticking with Yoga International. I don’t think we collectively owe Mr. Wilson a thing! If he was the driving force in the commercialism of yoga, glad his influence is minimized.

  • Dwayne

    Interesting re. connection between LULU and YJ. It so happens (fortuitously, given the disclosure) that I recently canceled my YJ subscription without knowing!
    The general clucking/hand-wringing about LULU puzzles me. I’ve never put a dime (directly or indirectly) in Mr. Wilson’s (or the company’s) pocket. If people refrain from purchasing, the company will eventually go away or shrink to a reasonable profile. OTOH, I’m never surprised when businessmen/public figures attempt to maximize their wealth.

  • k4k

    Bit hostile, aren’t you? Generalizing like that?

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