Fred Leighton continues to have flair for the dramatic: Peter Bacanovic has been ousted as president of the 38-year-old vintage jewelry house.
In streamlining company expenditures, Thomas Shull, who was named chief restructuring officer-plan facilitator of the firm last month by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, eliminated the role of president. Sources said Bacanovic, whose contract was up for renewal on Feb. 1, had investors interested in Leighton, but that once Shull stepped in late last month Bacanovic no longer had a say.
Also according to sources, Shull, chief executive officer of restructuring specialist Meridian Ventures LLC who served as an adviser in the bankruptcies and eventual sales of Macy & Co. and Barneys New York, has former Barneys owner Bob Pressman lined up as a possible investor in the troubled jeweler.
“There are people, more than a couple of people interested in becoming equity partners,” said Ralph Esmerian, who acquired Leighton in 2006 in coordination with Merrill Lynch’s Global Asset Based Finance Group from founder Murray Mondschein. “But in terms of the time and environment it’s never enough people…There’s never enough money.”
Esmerian said there has been added confusion since Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch in September.
Bacanovic’s swift exit comes after last week’s departure of Leighton’s chief financial officer Satyajit Bose. Bacanovic’s hire slightly more than a year ago was an eyebrow raising choice for the role of president of the jewelry house seeing as he had no previous experience in the industry.
The closest Bacanovic — the Merrill Lynch broker who was fired, banned from the securities industry and completed a jail term for insider trading in the ImClone scandal — had come to the luxury industry was when he was creative director for Judith Leiber with the socialite Vanessa Getty in 2006.
Calls to Bacanovic went unreturned.