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IPO likely Neiman Marcus option as underwriters chosen

The Neiman Marcus sign outside a store in Golden, Colorado December 9, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
The Neiman Marcus sign outside a store in Golden, Colorado December 9, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

By Soyoung Kim and Olivia Oran

(Reuters) - Neiman Marcus has appointed a syndicate of banks for a possible initial public offering, two people familiar with the matter said on Monday, in the latest sign that the high-end department store is leaning towards a listing over pursuing an outright sale.

Neiman Marcus has also hired Credit Suisse to run a sales process for the company, which has yet to find a buyer, sources have previously told Reuters.

Sources on Monday said Neiman Marcus' private equity owners are still keeping options for their long-held investment open and may decide to sell the company if a buyer comes along.

The Dallas, Texas-based company, owned by TPG Capital, Warburg Pincus LLC and Leonard Green & Partners LP, has selected Credit Suisse AG , Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co to lead the potential IPO, the sources said.

The people asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. TPG, Warburg and Leonard Green declined to comment, while Neiman Marcus did not respond to a request for comment. Credit Suisse, Bank of America and JPMorgan declined to comment.

TPG and Warburg took Neiman private in 2005 for $5.1 billion.

A sovereign wealth fund from Qatar was interested in Neiman's luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman but the company was not interested in selling off an asset which it regards as its crown jewel, one of the people said.

Neiman operates 41 namesake departments stores, Bergdorf Goodman as well as the lower-price outlet chains Last Call and CUSP. It competes directly with chains like Saks Inc , Nordstrom Inc and Macy's upscale Bloomingdale's chain.

Canadian department store chain Hudson's Bay announced last week an agreement to acquire Saks for $2.9 billion, including debt.

Private equity-owned companies routinely try to sell themselves to other companies or funds while they are also preparing for an IPO in a practice referred to by investment bankers as "dual-track."

Warburg Pincus agreed in May to sell Bausch & Lomb Holdings Inc to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International for $8.7 billion just as the company was in the final stages of preparing for a stock market flotation.

(Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)