By Sindhu Sundar and Evan Clark
with contributions from Jean E. Palmieri
 on October 11, 2019
Barneys New York's Beverly Hills store.

Barneys New York is inching closer to a deal to pull it out of bankruptcy — but just what the future looks like is still uncertain.

The luxe retailer on Friday said it was facing three possible paths forward, noting it was working with various parties on bids to buy the company. One potential buyer is trying to put together a deal to take the company as a going concern. The other two paths would lead the company to a deal centered around its intellectual property.

Attorneys for Barneys, the lenders who have supported it in bankruptcy and its creditors gathered again in Judge Cecelia Morris’ courtroom in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Friday afternoon to keep the case moving along.

The deadline for Barneys to secure some kind of a bid was pushed back to 9 a.m. Tuesday morning and another hearing will be held that day.

The identities of the three would-be bidders were not revealed in court.

Barneys’ chief executive officer Daniella Vitale was in court, but declined to comment.

Sources have said both trade show veteran and Kith backer Sam Ben-Avraham and fashion financier Gary Wassner have been competing in a race to become the stalking horse bidder. It is not clear just where either would get the money needed to buy the company.

It would take about $220 million to cover the lenders who have been supporting the company in bankruptcy.

Intellectual property specialist Authentic Brands Group, led by Jamie Salter, is also pursuing a deal and the company seems to be feeling pretty good about its prospects. One source said that at a town hall meeting for employees of Sports Illustrated, which is also owned by the brand house, an ABG executive noted the company in good shape to buy Barneys.

Barneys has been under pressure to find a buyer. If it hadn’t received extension giving would-be buyers time to firm up their financing and make other necessary arrangements, the company could have been forced into liquidation.

The firm’s debtor-in-possession lenders — Brigade Capital Management and B. Riley Financial Inc. — do better with a sale than a liquidation, although there’s a limit to how long they can support the company before a path forward is chosen.

Barneys has long stood for cool brands with high-style quotients and holds a special place in the fashion eco-system as a kind of uber taste-maker. And even though that hasn’t been enough to attract many of the traditional buyers to the process, there is still a strong emotional appeal that appears to have helped drive the interest from both Ben Avraham and Wassner.

It remains to be seen just who will win the auction, picking up the Barneys name and just how they plan to expand on the connection the brand has always had with the consumer.

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