NEW YORK — UCC Capital is said to be nearing a deal to acquire Badgley Mischka from Escada AG, according to sources.

UCC executives declined to comment Tuesday, and designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka could not be reached.

Early last month, Mischka said five companies were interested in buying Badgley Mischka, which is owned by Escada AG, the German designer firm, and a decision was expected within a month. He declined to name the suitors, other than to say four are domestic companies and one is based in England.

But one source familiar with one of the suitors said he was advised to back off while the company hammers out a deal with another party.

In July, Badgley Mischka announced it would not show a spring collection and pink-slipped 60 percent of its workforce. At least one of the remaining employees called competitors last week looking for a full-time job.

Despite its celebrity clientele and kinship with the fashion press, the 16-year-old ready-to-wear company has yet to yield a profit. The designers have attributed some of the company’s financial shortcomings to its failure to secure lucrative licensing deals.

UCC could give the ailing brand the financial muscle it needs. According to UCC Capital’s Web site, “UCC’s mission is to originate, structure and fund unique financial solutions for companies with core assets in intellectual property and contractually obligated income worldwide.” The site also outlines how UCC funds its transactions through two primary sources. “The first is through the private placement of asset-backed bonds on behalf of our clients, known as whole company securitizations, and the second, in cases where speed and certainty of execution are critical, UCC may fund a direct loan to our clients through our investment fund — UCC Investment Fund I.”

— Rosemary Feitelberg

This story first appeared in the September 22, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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