NEW YORK — Hal Upbin, chairman and ceo of Kellwood Co., took his defeat over Kasper A.S.L. in stride.

“I feel fine. We were very serious about wanting to have Kasper, but given the situation with Jones Apparel Group, perhaps it was more important to them than to us,” said Upbin, noting Kellwood handled the deal as it does all its transactions.

“We have financial criteria and we stayed the course, and it wasn’t about emotion,” said Upbin. He noted Kellwood’s bid went as high as $203 million. “We were serious with our financials and, based on the performance of the brand, we thought $200 million was comfortable for us. It was about value. It’s one more deal we did not do because of price. You have no idea how many deals we don’t do because of price. We’re very disciplined in the financial end.”

Kellwood’s initial bid for Kasper in June was $151 million in cash and stock, but including the assumption of liabilities, it came to $163 million.

Upbin said he doesn’t hold a grudge against Peter Boneparth, chief executive of the winning Jones. “We’re friends. I wished him well,” he said.

Asked if he’s ever had this kind of experience before, Upbin replied, “I’ve been in auctions, but not quite like this one.” He said that Kellwood came with a crew of eight people, including bankers, and Jones had about six or seven people.

So what’s next for Kellwood?

Upbin said there are a couple of acquisitions that he had to put on the back burner as he pursued Kasper. “We’ll pick it up,” he said. “We’re looking at the men’s portfolio, young women’s and accessories portfolios.” He said he expects to complete another acquisition by yearend. “We have the financial capability and have the interest,” said Upbin.

To complete the Kasper deal, Upbin said Kellwood would have borrowed about $50 million to $60 million. “I didn’t run out of money. It was what I felt it was worth,” he said.Now, he said, Kellwood would concentrate on its newest divisions, which include Liz Claiborne Dresses and Liz Claiborne Suits and the CK Calvin Klein women’s better sportswear collection. He said the company didn’t have those two brands at the time it put its bid in for Kasper, which now strongly position it in the women’s better category.

“Having those two businesses — Liz Claiborne and CK — puts us in a different slot than Jones,” said Upbin.

Upbin said he had no interest in running up the price for competitive and market share reasons. “If I operated that way, I could have kept going because they would have kept going,” he said. But that’s not his style, he added.

Upbin said that even when he gave his initial bid, he expected there would be one or two more bidders. “I’ve always been on the record saying that we’d have other interested parties,” he said.

To Read the Full Article
SUBSCRIBE NOW

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus