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The Children's Place Enters ASR Program, Lifts Dividend; To Enter China Market

The Children's Place, Inc. (PLCE) announced it intends to enter into an Accelerated Share Repurchase program with Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC to repurchase an aggregate of $125 million of the company's common stock under its current authorization using cash repatriated from its foreign subsidiaries. The ASR program is part of the company's existing share repurchase program previously authorized by the Board. The company will repurchase an aggregate of $125 million of its common stock with an initial delivery of approximately 80% of the shares expected to be repurchased. The company intends to retire these initial shares as soon as practical after receipt.

The company also announced that its Board has approved a new $250 million share repurchase program and has increased the company's quarterly dividend to $0.50 per share from $0.40 per share. The quarterly cash dividend of $0.50 per share to be paid April 27, 2018 to shareholders of record at the close of business on April 16, 2018.

Jane Elfers, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "In today's earnings release, we announced that we expect to achieve a 12% operating margin and EPS of $12.00 by the end of 2020. This accelerated share repurchase program, new share repurchase authorization and dividend increase reflect our confidence in our ability to achieve these targets while continuing our commitment to return excess capital to shareholders. Since 2009, we have repurchased approximately $870 million of our common stock and since 2014, paid over $66 million in dividends."

Separately, The Children's Place, Inc. announced that it has signed an exclusive license agreement for the Greater China market, covering Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, with Zhejiang Semir Garment Co. Ltd, parent of Balabala, China's largest specialty children's apparel retailer.

Jane Elfers, CEO said, "Entering the China market through this strategic partnership is a game-changer for our international business and is clearly a case where one plus one equals three. Semir, through their Balabala brand, currently operates and franchises approximately 4,400 children's apparel stores as well as having the largest children's apparel ecommerce business in China through their partnership with third party platforms, such as Tmall, JD and VIP.com. Over the first five years of this agreement, Semir will execute an omni-channel strategy by opening at least 300 Children's Place locations in Greater China and operating The Children's Place ecommerce business. This partnership is projected to generate $125 million to $150 million in retail sales in year five."

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