ATLANTA-In a deal valued at $450 million, Boston-based Berkshire Partners is buying the assets and real estate of 136-year-old William Carter Co. of suburban Morrow, GA. Carter has 149 retail outlets totaling an estimated three million sf and is regarded as the nation’s largest branded marketer of baby and toddler apparel. New York’s Investcorp is Carter’s partner.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter. Berkshire, a 15-year-old private equity investment firm, has signed a definitive agreement on the purchase with Investcorp, the companies say in a prepared statement. Berkshire is buying the apparel company from Investcorp and its clients.

Berkshire’s equity investment in the deal will be about $130 million.

“Over the course of our 4 ½-year partnership with Investcorp, Carter has made substantial operating and financial progress and has further established the Carter’s family of brands as the most innovating and popular in the children’s apparel sector,” Frederick J. Rowan II, Carter’s chairman/CEO/president, says in a prepared statement. Rowan expects his company to benefit from Berkshire’s experience with branded and retail-oriented companies.

Carter’s consolidated net sales in 2000 were $471.4 million, representing almost a 50% increase from $318.2 million in 1996 sales. During this period, wholesale sales increased to $256 million from $189 million. Retail outlet store sales increased to $215.3 million from $129.2 million.

Investcorp also has offices in London and Bahrain.

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