SALE OF ELLEN TRACY MAY BE CLINCHED

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK--A deal for the sale of Ellen Tracy may finally come to fruition today, according to sources.
Bain Capital, a large Boston-based investment group active in retailing, is expected to sign a deal today to buy the powerhouse bridge company from Herbert Gallen, its 80-year-old founder and owner, according to sources.
Jay Margolis, former vice chairman of Liz Claiborne Inc., and former president and vice chairman at Tommy Hilfiger, will reportedly be brought in to work with Gallen, who plans to continue running the business. Margolis couldn't be reached for comment.
Asked if a deal were imminent, Gallen told WWD Thursday, "It could very well be." He said he expected the deal to close Friday and couldn't discuss it further until then.
Bain has been quietly involved in the negotiations for Ellen Tracy for several months. Financo Inc., a New York investment banking firm, has been working for 18 months to structure a deal for the company.
Bain has acquired 60 companies since its start in 1984. It counts Duane Reade, the drug store chain; Totes Inc.; Specialty Retailers Inc., the Houston-based retailer, and Fashion Bar Inc., a women's apparel specialty chain based in Denver, among its holdings.
A sale reportedly would be structured where Linda Allard, the firm's designer, would continue with the company and have equity in the business. While Margolis doesn't have to put up any money himself, he would get a slight percentage of the business, said sources.
Earlier this year, Gallen said he has spoken to people about buying the company for 10 years. He said he was close to a deal three times in the last eight years, but each time a deal fell through at the last minute.
Gallen founded Ellen Tracy 45 years ago. The firm does an annual volume of about $250 million and is considered one of the premiere names in the bridge market. In addition to its Ellen Tracy by Linda Allard bridge collection, it also manufactures Company Ellen Tracy, a casual bridge sportswear line.

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