Victoria’s Secret store. Shutterstock.
Leslie Wexner is unloading about $745 million worth of shares in L Brands Inc., the retailer which includes Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, bringing his stock sales in the apparel group he founded to $1.2 billion for 2021.
The billionaire is selling stock in the Columbus, Ohio-based retailer through a secondary offering managed by JPMorgan Chase & Co., according to a regulatory filing Thursday. The sale is set to close July 19.
Wexner, 83, stepped down from L Brand’s board in May following his retirement as chief executive officer last year. Shares in the company have soared more than 700% since hitting a five-year low in early 2020 as the retailer aimed to shore up its underwear and bath products businesses in the wake of the pandemic. This week, L Brands raised guidance for second-quarter earnings and said its Bath & Body Works unit would pursue a $1.5 billion share buyback after Victoria’s Secret is spun off.
A spokesperson for L Brands and Wexner declined to comment.
Wexner and his family have a net worth of $10 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after he started the business in 1963 and diversified his holdings over several decades. His long-time money manager was Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex crimes. Wexner cut ties with Epstein in 2007 and later accused him of deception and misappropriating “vast sums of money from me and my family.”
Wexner has periodically offloaded tranches of stock that typically amounted to between $100 million and $300 million annually. While he’s now slashing his direct holding in L Brands, Wexner and his family will still control about a 10% stake in the company following the latest sale through a series of family trusts.
He’s one of a growing number of billionaire insiders who’ve been liquidating large tranches of stock this year. Members of the Walton family offloaded more than $1.2 billion of Walmart Inc. shares in recent months, while Jeff Bezos cashed in $6.7 billion of Amazon.com Inc. stock. Blackstone Group Inc. executive Tony James sold stock in May worth more than $250 million, his largest annual disposal since at least 2013.
Further Reading: How L Brands Brought Victoria’s Secret Back From the Brink
After spending the last year boosting the lingerie retailer’s financial health, its owner is planning a spinoff.