Zale Buys Piercing Pagoda

Zale Corp., the largest fine jewelry retailer in North America, has become the world's largest jeweler and a dominant force in all segments of the U.S. jewelry market with its purchase of Piercing Pagoda Inc. The retailer of low-priced gold jewelry operates kiosks in hundreds of U.S. malls. The deal was announced Aug. 11. The transaction, says Zale chairman Robert J. DiNicola, "solidifies Zale as the undisputed leader in the jewelry sector, encompassing all price categories, age groups, and categories of jewelry merchandise available to the general public." Zale is paying $201 million for the Bethlehem, Pa., company, offering $21.50 per share (34% over Piercing Pagoda's closing stock price on Aug. 10). The Irving, Texas, retailer also assumes $55 million in debt, which it will retire after the deal is completed. It's an all-cash transaction, with no external borrowing, thanks in part

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