ANG Financing Cut, Firm Seeks Buyer

Accessories firm faces liquidity squeeze after loss of Wells Fargo financing.

Accessory Network Group is seeking a buyer for all or part of its business after Wells Fargo pulled the plug on its credit facility earlier this month, according to reports in the market.

This story first appeared in the January 27, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Financial and market sources told WWD that ANG has sold its cold-weather accessories business to another New York-based accessories firm, Wiesner Products, and is negotiating with Wiesner about a sale of the rest of the business. There are believed to be other bidders for the assets of the company, which generated sales of about $150 million in 2011, according to market sources.

Abe Chehebar, chief executive officer of ANG, declined to comment on specific details. “There are still negotiations taking place,” he said, describing them as being at a “sensitive, fragile” stage.

In addition to the loss of its Wells Fargo financing, the company is understood to be dealing with a debt load deemed to be “substantial” by one of the sources who spoke with WWD.

ANG, one of the largest accessories firms in the U.S., reportedly lost Wells Fargo’s support after falling out of compliance with certain covenants within its credit facility. While instances of noncompliance are common between lenders and their commercial clients and are often resolved through a renegotiation of terms, sources familiar with the situation said that Wells Fargo wasn’t interested in going forward with ANG.

A spokesman for Wells Fargo declined comment, citing a policy of not commenting on its relationships with customers. Charles Mizrahi, head of Wiesner, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

ANG has both taken on and relinquished a number of brands in recent years. It purchased Yak Pak, a backpack supplier, outright last March after acquiring the rights to the upscale Kooba brand in late January. However, the Kooba trademark is owned by Swander Pace Capital and the rights to it could revert to the licensor if certain conditions, such as minimum royalty payments, aren’t met.

ANG bought the Ghurka label in 2003 but sold it to Brightwork Brand Holdings Corp. in September. Sources indicated that proceeds from the sale were used to pay down ANG’s debt to Wells Fargo.

When Ghurka was sold, Chehebar told WWD about 60 percent of ANG’s business was in private label. The company also holds the license for Overture by Judith Leiber and was previously the licensee for the Calvin Klein handbag business.

It couldn’t immediately be learned whether ANG was continuing to ship orders. Its offices at the Empire State Building are open and the firm’s Web site and phone system remain in operation.