A Chicago bankruptcy court approved yesterday the bid placed by London-based firm Emerisque Brands to obtain the assets of Hartmarx Corp. The professional apparel company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy five months ago on January 23, just
three days after the inauguration of President Obama, who was outfitted
by the Chicago-based firm during the campaign and many for of his inaugural
Hartmarx has racked up loads of debt in the few years, owing its lending group, led by Wells Fargo, more than $120 million. When the company finally filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, it was hoping to be able to continue its manufacturing during the lengthy selling process but Wells Fargo Capital Finance refused to fund operations and prepared a full liquidation. Luckily, several members of Congress
joined with union representatives to pressure Wells Fargo, a recipient
of Troubled Assets Relief Program funds, to support the company and protect the thousands of U.S. jobs that Hartmarx’s domestic production
provides. Wells Fargo has since agreed.
The historic apparel company has been operating since the late nineteenth century and has helped brand and turn out invaluable labels like Tommy Hilfiger, Pierre Cardin, Liz Claiborne, and Burberry. In addition to President Obama, the professional apparel house also famously clothed Johnny Carson for years on his legendary late night talk show. From all the history the company has experienced, many were upset by the prospect of liquidation or even being taken apart.
Emerisque Brands, along with its investment partner SKNL, was among
other interested acquisitions companies like Mistral Equity Partners
and Yucaipa Cos., but was the only bidder claiming to keep the Hartmarx
company in one piece.
The investment partners were named the stalking horse bidder on May 22 with an offer of $128.4 million,
which included $33.5 million in liabilities. That total is higher than
the initial offer of $85.5 million. Though the deal will still take a couple more weeks to become final, the court-approved bid is good news for the buyers. Let's just hope there's no backlash from the other bidders, a la Filene's Basement.
Article Source: WWD
Photo Source: latimes.com
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