Catherine Malandrino

Financial services company B. Riley Financial Inc. is expanding its reach in fashion. The company said Wednesday that it has invested nearly $117 million to acquire a majority stake in a half dozen brands including Catherine Malandrino and Nanette Lepore. 

The deal reflects B. Riley’s ongoing tie-ups with Bluestar Alliance, a brand management company that has operated names including Nanette Lepore, Catherine Malandrino, Yak Pak, English Laundry, Limited Too and Harvé Benard. 

“Through an investment of $116.5 million, the company holds majority ownership of the assets and intellectual property related to licenses of six brands: Catherine Malandrino, English Laundry, Joan Vass, Kensie Girl, Limited Too and Nanette Lepore,” B. Riley said in a statement Wednesday. 

Riley will also invest in Bluestar Alliance’s deal with Nike Inc., which was disclosed Tuesday, to buy the Hurley brand from the sportswear company, although the terms of the deal were not disclosed. That deal is expected to be completed in December.

Bluestar, which was established in 2006, runs a roster of brands including Tahari, Bebe and Kensie. Riley’s move is part of a new brand investment portfolio that it said it has set up, and comes at a time when retail’s financial troubles often leaves valued brands up for sale.

“The shifting retail landscape has created more opportunities to acquire licenses for established and up-and-coming brands at an attractive valuation,” said Bryant Riley, chairman and co-chief executive officer of B. Riley Financial.

“Through the formation of this brand investment portfolio, combined with our ongoing partnership with Bluestar Alliance and our existing ownership stake in Bebe stores, we believe we have credibly established ourselves as a significant financing source and investment partner to brand management companies,” he said. 

Representatives for Bluestar couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. 

B. Riley, along with investment firm Brigade Capital Management LP, was also behind Barneys New York’s debtor-in-possession financing during the luxury retailer’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings in New York. In that case, B. Riley has also teamed up with Authentic Brands Group to submit a roughly $271 million stalking horse bid to acquire Barneys assets, including its intellectual property. 

ABG and B. Riley could still end up with some competition, if Kith investor Sam Ben-Avraham submits his own purchase offer in time. A sale hearing in the Barneys case is scheduled for Thursday. 

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