Claire's Stores Nears $3 Billion Private Buyout: Report

Private equity firm Apax is believed to be the front-runner to acquire jewelry and accessories retailer Claire's Stores in a $3 billion deal, Britain's Sunday Telegraph said.

Claire's said in December that it was exploring strategic alternatives for its business, including a possible sale, and that it retained Goldman, Sachs. as an adviser.

The Telegraph report said the deadline for final bids was last Wednesday, and Apax is believed to be in the lead after other private equity bidders backed out.

Apax has already lined up a senior management team for Claire's, the report said, citing an executive close to the situation.

Pembroke Pines, Florida-based Claire's Stores, which operates more than 3,000 stores worldwide, was founded in 1961 by Rowland Schaefer, whose daughters Bonnie and Marla Schaefer each serve as co-chairman and co-CEO.

Claire's officials could not immediately be reached for comment.