A deal to sell the unit could be worth $500 million. Nike acquired Cole Haan in 1988 for $80 million.
While a number of private equity firms have been involved in discussions over a potential sale, Apax Partners has reportedly beat out competitors including Berkshire Partners and TPG Capital Management.
Shares of Nike slipped fractionally in Tuesday morning trading.
Apax’s apparent winning effort will partner the private equity firm with Jack Boys, who formerly headed Converse. Boys would be involved in the running of Cole Haan after the acquisition.
Earlier this year, Nike announced that it would seek buyers for Cole Haan and its Umbro soccer apparel business. Last month, it announced the sale of Umbro to Iconix Brand Group for $225 million.