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Billionaire founder of Victoria’s Secret may sell the company

Astrid Stawiarz

L Brands’ stock jumped 12% Wednesday on a report that billionaire founder and CEO Leslie Wexner is in talks to step aside or sell the struggling lingerie brand.

Wexner, 82, who led Abercrombie & Fitch, The Limited and Victoria’s Secret and has been under heavy scrutiny for his close ties to Jeffrey Epstein, “is in discussions to step aside as chief executive officer of his retail empire and is exploring strategic alternatives” for the brand, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The report cautioned that L Brands is “looking to reach a decision on the potential deal and succession plans in coming weeks.” There’s also “no guarantee” the company will reach agreement with Wexner.

L Brands, which owns the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works chains, declined to comment to CNN Business on the report.

Victoria’s Secret has struggled with falling sales and competition from upstart lingerie brands in recent years. An activist investor last year built a stake in L Brands and pushed the company to make sweeping changes, including possibly spinning off Bath & Body Works into a separate company.

Victoria’s Secret has also dealt with the fallout from Wexner’s ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein, whose death in jail last August has been ruled a suicide, was Wexner’s former personal money manager and a trustee of the Wexner Foundation, Wexner’s charitable group based in Ohio. Wexner said he cut ties with Epstein in 2007.

In September, Wexner said that he was “embarrassed” that he put his trust in Epstein.

“Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved is something that I am embarrassed that I was even close to, but that is in the past,” Wexner said.

—CNN Business’ Jordan Valinsky contributed to this article.

Article Topic Follows: Biz/Tech

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