NEW YORK — Designer Elie Tahari last week submitted his bid for Barneys New York, according to sources.

Although Tahari had been searching for a partner, sources said he elected to “go on his own.” Tahari’s bid, which one source referred to as “substantial,” is said to be in the $400 million range.

A bid at this stage, with “highest and best offers” to be put on the table, means Tahari already has secured commitment letters from lenders. Tahari has been eager to buy Barneys for some time, having made a substantial initial bid in the early fall to propel him into second-round consideration, sources said. Tahari is one of the few nonfinancial buyers to have made it to the second round and beyond.

Dickson Concepts looked at Barneys and passed on making a bid, as did Hong Kong-based retailer Lane Crawford. As for U.S. retailers, Federated Department Stores has elected to focus on converting its stores to the Macy’s nameplate, while high-end specialty chain Neiman Marcus Group also walked away from any deal but is reportedly watching on the sidelines to see who may be bidding, as well as discern the amount of each bid. While it likely would be too late for any other bids — the process is expected to close this week — one investment banker said: “Anything can happen at this stage of the bidding, especially when someone comes in with a high offer that is legitimate and secured with financing in place.”

On the financial side, firms such as Vestar Capital Partners and Freeman Spogli & Co. also decided not to make a run at Barneys for their next deal. One problem, observed an investment banker, is that “Barneys is high-priced for many of these financial firms, and for them, there appears to be limited potential for growing the freestanding stores and its Co-op concept.”

Barneys wouldn’t be the usual investment for Bear Stearns’ merchant banking group — it likes to build retail operations that are cast-offs from the parent firm, such as New York & Co. and Aeropostale, both successful deals in the past — but it is possible it could join forces with another firm, such as Triac. The merchant banking group is the private investment arm of Bear Stearns and a source said Gregory Shaia, who joined the Bear Stearns’ investment banking group in August after a stint at Citigroup, has been working on putting together financing for Triac in a Barneys bid. He also has experience in deals connected to retail and apparel. One avenue of financing would be the private equity group at his own firm, a banker at a competing firm said.

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