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Liz in Final Phase of Brand Review

Liz Claiborne Inc. is close to concluding the fates of several of its brands under review.

Liz Claiborne Inc. is close to concluding the fates of several of its brands under review.

This story first appeared in the December 14, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After accepting formal offers on the nine remaining brands under review two weeks ago, the $4.99 billion firm has settled on buyers for some of them, including Ellen Tracy and Laundry, and is contemplating keeping bridge brand Dana Buchman and licensing it, according to sources.

American Capital Strategies Ltd. is believed to have won the bid for Ellen Tracy, besting G-III Apparel Group Ltd., which has the Ellen Tracy licenses for outerwear, said a source. American Capital, which recently bought Appleseed’s Brands, a private label apparel brand for women and men ages 55 and older, did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

The Laundry buyer is unknown, but Schottenstein Stores, which had put in an offer for the dress brand, did not win the bid, according to another source. Other bidders, including Cerberus Capital Management LP and Perry Ellis International Inc., have dropped out of the bidding, according to sources.

The second phase of the auction process, which began when Claiborne chief executive officer William L. McComb revealed his intention to sell 16 of the company’s brands, involves the nine contemporary, better, bridge and active labels: Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy, Sigrid Olsen, Enyce, Prana, Mac & Jac, Kensie, Laundry and C&C California.

Although the conglomerate is giving preferential treatment to bidders interested in multiple brands, the first group of labels appears to be going to individual buyers. Enyce, Prana and C&C California also all appear to be getting sold individually, according to a source.

Claiborne completed the first phase — involving the seven moderate brands — in September. The company dissolved one brand, blended two others into existing ones and sold four — Emma James, Tapemeasure, JH Collectibles and Intuitions — to the Regatta division of Li & Fung USA, a subsidiary of Li & Fung Ltd. Li & Fung president Rick Darling has denied his company was bidding in the second phase.

Claiborne has set the end of the first quarter next year as a deadline to conclude the review process. The company declined comment.