(Bloomberg) -- Express Inc. won bankruptcy court approval to sell itself for $174 million to a consortium led by WHP Global, a brand licensing company backed by Ares Management Corp. and Oaktree Capital Management, and mall owners Simon Property Group and Brookfield Properties.

The offer price includes $136 million in cash and $38 million in liabilities that will be assumed by the buyers, according to court papers. Judge Karen Owens approved the sale on Friday, saying during a Delaware court hearing that the deal represents the highest and best price for the clothing retailer.

Express Chief Financial Officer Mark Still said in a sworn statement that the sale preserves the company’s retail business and includes the assumption of roughly 450 store leases. The sale also saves thousands of jobs and keeps nearly all of Express’ existing locations open, Still said

Owens approved the sale a week after signing off on WHP and the mall owners’ stalking horse bid, which set the floor price for the retailer’s assets and was subject to competing offers. Express said when it filed Chapter 11 in April that it could be forced to liquidate if it didn’t quickly complete the buyout offer.

WHP said Friday it has created a new retail operating platform, dubbed PHOENIX, in collaboration with Simon, Brookfield and Centennial Real Estate. The new platform includes both Express and fellow retailer Bonobos, a men’s clothing brand WHP acquired last year.

Like other mall-based peers, Express has struggled for years with declining in-store sales along with changing consumer tastes and online competition. 

The case is Express Inc., number 24-10831, in US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware (Wilmington).

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