NEW YORK — A Massachusetts bankruptcy court judge on Tuesday approved an agreement in principle between Malden Mills Industries Inc. and its creditors that would allow the Lawrence, Mass.-based fleece maker to exit Chapter 11.

The plan would give an exclusive option to Malden chief executive officer Aaron Feuerstein to buy the interests of the mill’s creditors, including GE Capital, which in turn would allow him to retain ownership of the company.

The firm has until Feb. 18 to file a reorganization plan. Keeping ownership of the firm has been a priority for 77-year-old Feuerstein, a grandson of the firm’s founder, Henry Feuerstein. Malden has been operating under court protection since November 2001.

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