Express debuts on New York Stock Exchange

Columbus, Ohio Express said Friday it has completed its initial public offering of stock, raising $162.9 million.

The retailer began trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol EXPR. Its shares closed at $16.75, lower than the initial offering price of $17 a share. The company sold 10.5 million shares, netting $162.9 million after expenses and underwriting discounts. It said it will use the money, plus $15.3 million of cash on hand, primarily to pay off debt.

Private equity investor Golden Gate Capital, based in San Francisco, and other stockholders sold another 5.5 million shares but Express did not receive any of the estimated $87.4 million in proceeds.

The IPO represented an 18% stake in the company, which remains majority-owned by Golden Gate, which bought a 75% stake from former parent Limited Brands in 2007.

Express currently operates 573 stores.