By and  on September 22, 2008

NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne Inc. and Narciso Rodriquez, stalemated by fundamental differences over how to grow the designer’s niche business, are in talks to possibly sever the $4 billion vendor’s stake in the brand, according to sources. Various options are being considered, and nothing has been finalized.

Rodriguez has a right, according to the contract the two firms signed in May 2007, to buy back his stake, but sources said the notoriously difficult designer is having trouble finding an investor. Other possible endings could include Claiborne maintaining a silent partnership, an active partnership or keeping a financial interest without funding additional growth, said sources. Both parties declined comment Sunday.

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