Newcastle takes the lead in the bid to buy Whitehall

Whitehall Jewellers Inc. said Tuesday that it believes a binding offer from Newcastle Partners LP to acquire the Chicago-based jewelry retailer for $1.50 per share is a “superior proposal” and had a reasonable chance of being approved by shareholders. Whitehall’s board also said it chose to withdraw its previous support of an offer from Prentice Capital Management LP, following a consultation with the company’s financial and legal advisers.

Because of the new development, Whitehall postponed its meeting shareholders, originally scheduled for Wednesday, until Feb. 6, to give Prentice time to come up with a revised proposal.

Whitehall noted the binding proposal from Newcastle to buy Whitehall for $1.50 a share also includes a tender offer pursuant to which Newcastle would fund and hold separate about $150 million to pay off Whitehall’s senior credit facility, refinance a bridge loan and pay related fees and penalties.