NEW YORK--After refusing for nearly four years to pay back $13 million owed to an investor, apparel executive Maurice Bidermann may be ready to make good. A lawyer for Rexnord Holdings Inc., which is owed the $13 million from its investment in Bidermann's 1990 purchase of Cluett, Peabody & Co., said Monday the parties are engaged in "ongoing" discussions about the buyout of Rexnord's $13 million claim. The lawyer, Donald Miller, said he was "neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but cautious" about whether a deal could be struck. He also said he didn't know with whom Bidermann might be talking about funding the buyout. After using various legal remedies to collect part of its claim--including seizing Bidermann's Park Avenue apartment and auctioning off his art collection--Rexnord recently took control of 99,500 shares, or 15 percent, of Bidermann SA, Maurice Bidermann's Paris holding company. Maurice Bidermann has been attempting to reorganize the financially troubled Bidermann SA, which controls Bidermann International, the men's apparel conglomerate in France, a move Rexnord has blocked in court. As reported, Rexnord has reached an agreement in principle with Bidermann's white knights, Lucien Deveaux, a French textile maker, and Sylvain Jama, a wholesaler, which would allow the two to invest in and take control of Bidermann SA while preserving Rexnord's claim. Bidermann Industries USA, Bidermann's U.S. arm that makes the licensed Ralph Lauren Womenswear and Yves Saint Laurent men's wear lines and Arrow shirts and Gold Toe socks, is not affected by the proposed restructuring.
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