By  on June 16, 2011

The sale of JA Apparel Corp. is moving forward with Iconix Brand Group Inc. still holding the edge over other buyers and HMX Group emerging as the likely tailored clothing licensee for JA’s Joseph Abboud brand.

Should a licensing deal be struck, it would reunite the Joseph Abboud brand with its founder, Joseph Abboud, who is now president and chief creative director of HMX. Officials at SKNL International, HMX’s parent, could not be reached for comment by press time. J.W. Childs Associates, the private equity firm that owns JA Apparel, declined comment.

Discussions are still fluid, but sources said time constraints could mean the private equity firm might need to make a decision soon.

Late last month Iconix was closing in on a purchase, which is now said to carry a price tag of $80 million to $85 million. That’s a drop from the $100-million-plus neighborhood J.W. Childs had been seeking since 2006. Sources said that other suitors, such as Li & Fung, which had expressed interest earlier in the year along with SKNL, quickly reentered the hunt after the price dropped.

An individual familiar with the discussions said a deal with Li & Fung could take more time, which could be a problem since J.W. Childs would like to sell the company and use that to create momentum as it raises money for its next fund. That leaves Iconix still the likely victor, this source said.

A requirement of any sale to Iconix is a resolution of who will own JA’s Boston factory. It was thought that JA Apparel would retain ownership and become the licensee for tailored apparel. Now, some sources said SKNL is in the picture because it doesn’t appear likely the managing team at JA Apparel can get the funding required to acquire the plant and license.

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