Time might not permit NexCen to wait to sell Bill Blass.
While NexCen Brands Inc. would prefer to delay the sale of the Bill Blass brand until later in the year, potential buyers said the cash-strapped firm needs to do a fast-track sale of both Blass and the home furnishings brand Waverly, particularly since an all-cash bid for Waverly might not be worked out.
Waverly is expected to be sold in two to three weeks and to go for between $30 million and $32 million, according to sources familiar with the talks. While Iconix Brand Group at one point had the inside track and was believed to have an exclusivity agreement with NexCen two weeks ago, one source familiar with the negotiations said talks have shifted to a joint bid from Windsong Brands LLC and Hilco Consumer Capital, which recently joined forces to buy the Sharper Image brand when it was in bankruptcy proceedings. Sources said the Windsong-Hilco venture currently has the exclusivity agreement with NexCen for Waverly.
Windsong and NexCen declined comment Tuesday.
NexCen bought Waverly for $36.8 million in May 2007.
Financial sources said the Waverly talks are not focused on an all-cash bid, but the breakdown between cash and other means of financing hasn’t been determined. Even if a Waverly sale were to go as high as $32 million, NexCen would need additional funds if it received less than $30 million in cash proceeds. A quick sale of Blass would fill the gap.
The cash-strapped company in May disclosed that $30 million of the $70 million it borrowed in the $89 million acquisition of Great American Cookies had to be paid by Oct. 17. Since then, NexCen has been working to trim its workforce and operations and sell its nonfranchise brands.
Although NexCen now has until the end of the year to fulfill its $30 million obligation, it said Friday it will continue to work with primary lender BTMU Capital Corp. on a comprehensive restructuring of the loan, which it intends to complete by Aug. 8.
Bankers and potential buyers said the Blass brand has value, but that it isn’t an easy sale because NexCen wants more than it is currently worth.
“If NexCen’s troubles were not part of the equation and you just wanted to sell Blass, there’s a host of strategic buyers who would have an interest,” said Richard Kestenbaum, a partner at investment banking firm Triangle Capital. “As for valuation, the brand has been through a lot in the last several years, and that impacts value.”
Bankers and buyers eyeing the Blass brand have pegged a purchase price range of between $26 million and $28 million. One banker said if NexCen could get more than $30 million, it would be a “huge win” for the distressed firm. Still, the high-end price of $28 million is just more than half the $54.6 million paid by NexCen in cash and stock for the brand in December 2006.
Windsong and Hilco are also looking at Blass, as are Arnold Simon’s Designer Licensing Holdings, the Blass jeanswear licensee and owner of 10 percent of the Blass trademark; Iconix, and Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. Sources told WWD that Simon’s $24 million bid for Blass was rejected by NexCen and that the brand management firm rejected a higher bid last week from a private equity firm. While the identity of the private equity firm was not immediately known, sources said equity firms with strategic platforms in place have been circling the Blass brand.
Earlier this month, NexCen bought the couture business of Blass, a move that ensures the ultimate Blass buyer will get complete control over the brand.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews