Feb 17 (Reuters) - Clothing firm Sunrise Brands LLC has bid for the e-commerce business and intellectual property of bankrupt U.S. retailer The Limited, challenging a $26.3 million offer from private equity firm Sycamore Partners, people familiar with the matter said.
Sunrise Brands' bid underscores the value it sees in The Limited's online presence and intellectual property, even as the specialty retailer was forced to close its roughly 250 bricks-and-mortar stores earlier this year. It filed for bankruptcy last month, with Sycamore Partners as a stalking-horse bidder.
The sources asked not to be identified because details of the bankruptcy auction are confidential. Sycamore declined to comment, while The Limited and Sunrise Brands did not respond to requests for comment.
Mall-based retailers such as The Limited have experienced fierce competitive pressure as shoppers turn to e-commerce giants such as Amazon.com Inc.
The bankruptcy auction for The Limited is scheduled for Feb. 21 in Philadelphia. While the value of Sunrise Brands' offer could not be learned, the bankruptcy court required bids topping the one from Sycamore to start at $26.5 million.
Wet Seal, a U.S. teen retailer, has been following a similar course to The Limited. It plans to auction off its intellectual property early next month after filing for bankruptcy and shutting down its stores.
Sunrise Brands' holdings include Seven7 Jeans, American Rag and branded apparel for actresses Melissa McCarthy and Eva Longoria.
The retail portfolio of Sycamore includes department store chain Belk, footwear and accessories line Nine West and online-only women's apparel company Coldwater Creek, whose intellectual property it acquired through bankruptcy proceedings in 2014.
Sycamore also competed for bankrupt teen retailer Aeropostale in a bankruptcy auction last year, but lost to brand licensor Authentic Brands Group LLC and a consortium of mall owners. (Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Adrian Croft)