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.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast