| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital LP have tapped banks for an initial public offering of Michaels Stores Inc, North America's largest retailer of arts and crafts which they paid over $6 billion to take private in 2006, four people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc are the leads on what could be one of the year's largest IPOs in the retail sector, the sources said. One of the sources said an IPO registration document is to be filed in April.
Blackstone and Bain collectively own 93 percent of Michaels Stores, according to regulatory filings. Spokespeople for both private equity firms declined to comment. A Michael Stores official did not respond to a request for comment.
Highfields Capital Management LP owns 6.2 percent of Michaels, according to a regulatory filing. A Highfields spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the hedge fund's intentions.
Michaels operates 1,066 retail stores in 49 U.S. states and in Canada. It posted earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization of $661 million in 2011 and had total debt of $3.5 billion as of January 28, 2012.
(Additional reporting by Dhanya Skariachan and Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)