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Shoemaker Toms sells 50% stake to Bain Capital

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Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie is keeping a 50% stake in the company and will remain on as “visionary” and “chief shoe giver.”

Toms Shoes Inc., the Los Angeles company known for giving away a pair of shoes for every pair it sells, has agreed to sell a 50% stake to investment firm Bain Capital.

The shoemaker said Wednesday that Toms founder Blake Mycoskie would keep a 50% share of the company and remain on as “visionary” and “chief shoe giver.”

Mycoskie said joining forces with Bain Capital enables the company “to grow faster” than going it alone.

“We’ve had incredible success, and now we need a strategic partner who shares our bold vision for the future and can help us realize it,” he said in a statement.

The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. However, a source familiar with the deal said the investment values the company at about $625 million, including debt.

The deal could raise eyebrows among some shoppers who are drawn to the company in part by its business model, which marries the for-profit company to a mission of doing good.

Since its founding in 2006, Toms has operated under a “one for one” model — giving a pair of shoes to a child for every one it sells. Its marketing centers largely on its charitable pursuits. One ad noted that Toms shoes “won’t make you run faster or jump higher but they will help you sleep better.”

Partnering with Bain Capital could be seen by some consumers as tarnishing the reputation of Toms as a company somehow above the capitalist fray. The Boston firm has plenty of experience in the retail industry, investing in companies such as Burlington Stores, Gymboree Corp. and Dollarama. It is perhaps best known for its co-founder, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Mycoskie is giving away at least 50% of his profits from the deal by establishing a fund to support causes he believes in, the company said Wednesday.

Toms has expanded beyond shoes into eyewear and coffee. It gives a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair of sunglasses it sells. Earlier this year, Toms also started selling coffee — donating a week’s worth of clean water to a person in a developing country for every bag of joe purchased.