Ascena Retail Group, $4.9B parent of women apparel retailers Lane Bryant and Dressbarn, is acquiring $2.5B Ann Inc., parent of Ann Taylor and Loft, in a deal worth $2B in cash/stock.

ann taylorLane Bryant is a leading player in the plus-sized market, which is a fast-growing segment that current chalks up $9B in annual revenues. Dress Barn sells lower priced clothing.

Ann Taylor's focus is on career women and suburban moms, while the Loft feature more casual items.

David Jaffe, Ascena CEO, said the merger "dramatically reinforces our leadership position in women's specialty apparel retailing." He expects $150M in annual cost savings within three years.

ICR Inc.'s James Palczynski is doing investor work for Ascena.

Publicis Groupe's Kekst & Co. has Wendi Kopsick, Dawn Dover and Stef Goodsell handling represent Ann Inc.