By  on November 19, 2008

PARIS — Charles Jourdan, the beleaguered French footwear brand that went into liquidation last December, is once again up for grabs following the failure of its most recent suitor, Finzurich, to cough up the 2 million euros, or $2.5 million at current exchange, required to complete its acquisition.

The firm’s price tag was set by the commercial court of Romans-sur-Isère in March when it green-lighted the sale of Charles Jourdan France SA’s assets to the Costa-Rica-based investment fund, compromising 10 stores in France and the firm’s factory equipment. The deal also included share options in Charles Jourdan’s Swiss-based subsidiary, Charles Jourdan Holding AG, which owns the brand’s international licensing rights. But the court recently annulled the transaction, having received only 10 percent of the payment.

Jean-Claude Paolini, who collaborated with official receiver Christophe Roumezi on the case, said in view of the brand’s notoriety, he’s confident a new buyer will be found. Failing that, Charles Jourdan’s assets will be auctioned off at a public sale.

“We have until the end of the year, it’s an extremely urgent situation. We’ll be reaching out to those who have already shown interest,” he said, listing Groupe Royer and a group of former Charles Jourdan employees among potential candidates. None of the big luxury players so far has expressed interest, he said.

Repetto and the American group Omniscient, owned by Rick and Kathy Hilton, are among firms to have recently sniffed around the brand, before desisting. Charles Jourdan’s last owner, Yannis Bilquez, was arrested by Swiss police at the end of 2007 for alleged “disloyal management.” He had purchased Jourdan two years previously via a Luxembourg-based holding company called Finaluxe.

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