By and  on June 23, 2009

Hartmarx Corp. is believed to have confidentiality agreements in place with seven potential bidders, all of whom have either submitted, or are in the process of submitting, bids for parts of the bankrupt firm’s assets, according to financial and market sources.

The deadline for submitting bids was late Monday. There are at least three financial players and three strategic buyers. Hartmarx officials declined comment.

The three financial players include Mistral Capital Management, Versa Capital Management and a financial group led by designer Joseph Abboud. Bids from Versa as well as Mistral, a special purpose acquisition company connected to Andrew Heyer, but separate from the Mistral entity that bid previously for Hartmarx before the stalking horse was named, have already been submitted. Mistral is believed to be interested in Monarchy, Exclusively Misook and Christopher Blue brands. It could not be determined what labels Versa, which specializes in distressed situations and has in its portfolio Polartec and Bob’s Stores, is interested in.

The group led by Abboud includes a Chicago-based private equity firm, and is said to involve a Florida-based financial investor as well. At press time, Abboud’s group had not yet placed a bid, according to sources. His group is believed to be interested in Hickey Freeman, and possibly Hart Schaffner Marx. Calls to Abboud were not returned by press time.

On the strategic side, bids have been received from Affliction Holdings, Perry Ellis International and Western Glove Works. Affliction Holdings is affiliated with Affliction brands, according to sources, who said it is interested in Monarchy. Perry Ellis is said to be eyeing golf brand Bobby Jones, and possibly one other label. Western Glove is a Canadian firm based in Winnipeg, Manitoba that is believed to be interested in Christopher Blue. Western Glove manufactures Victoria Beckham’s dVb line.

Sources said there was at least one other possible bidder for the men’s brands Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx.

An auction is set for Wednesday. The stalking horse bid from London-based Emerisque and its investment partner SKNL at $128.4 million is for the entire firm. Depending on the course of the auction, there is the possibility of a breakup of the brands under the Hartmarx umbrella.

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