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Court OK’s Jones’ Kasper Deal

NEW YORK — With the blessings of a bankruptcy court last week, Jones Apparel Group started down on the final leg of its journey to acquire Kasper A.S.L.<br><br>As reported, Jones was the highest bidder for Kasper at an auction two weeks ago and...

NEW YORK — With the blessings of a bankruptcy court last week, Jones Apparel Group started down on the final leg of its journey to acquire Kasper A.S.L.

As reported, Jones was the highest bidder for Kasper at an auction two weeks ago and will pony up a total consideration of $216.6 million to acquire the firm. The deal should be wrapped up by yearend and is still subject to certain customary closing conditions.

“One of the things we’re most interested in typically is brands and we really think that we’ve in many ways hit the mother lode here,” Jones chief executive officer Peter Boneparth said on a conference call Thursday.

In addition to the Kasper brand, the acquisition will bring Jones the Anne Klein, Albert Nipon and LeSuit names.

The call was bisected by the blackout in the Northeast, but the ceo, after being disconnected, returned to carry on. Boneparth also plans to carry on with the expansion of Anne Klein, which he said presents both retailing and international opportunities. Kasper has already licensed the business in Japan and introduced the brand in Europe.

“We’re certainly going to examine ways to leverage that further because the Anne Klein name clearly does mean something outside the borders of the United States,” the ceo said.

On another point, Boneparth added: “There is no present intention at all to vacate the bridge business or certainly the better business at this point. Those brands really have tremendous ownership in those segments and potential. So it would be inconceivable that we would be taking those downstream.”

Additionally, Boneparth said the acquisition presents no conflicts with its existing Polo Jeans license with Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.