Brooks Brothers

Jamie Salter has made another bold move in his quest to buy Brooks Brothers.

The chief executive officer of Authentic Brands Group has stepped forward with a $305 million stalking-horse bid to purchase the venerable retailer.

Thursday night, Brooks Brothers revealed that it filed a motion in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to obtain court approval of an asset purchase agreement with Sparc Group LLC, a company backed by ABG with its partner Simon Property Group.

The bid is to purchase substantially all of Brooks Brothers’ global business operations as a going concern and includes a commitment to acquire at least 125 of the company’s retail locations.

The agreement is subject to court approval and any higher or better offers as part of the retailer’s  ongoing auction process.

A court hearing to approve the stalking-horse bid will take place on Aug. 3. Brooks Brothers is requesting that the deadline for competing offers be set for Aug. 5 and that a hearing to approve the sale take place on Aug. 11.

But Sparc won’t be without competition. WHP Global, the new brand management firm that has so far purchased Anne Klein and Joseph Abboud, is still hot on owning Brooks Brothers.

On Thursday night, Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive officer of WHP, said: “It’s early innings in the Brooks Brothers bankruptcy sale process. The next key date is the auction. Our company, WHP Global, backed by Oaktree Capital and BlackRock, is a bidder. We are big believers in the power of the Brooks Brothers brand, the global footprint and the management team. We’re looking forward to competing at the auction — that’s when the future of Brooks Brothers will be determined.”

WHP had initially agreed to provide Brooks Brothers with debtor-in-possession financing when the company filed Chapter 11 in early July, effectively positioning itself as the unofficial stalking horse. But a few days later, ABG and Simon swooped in with a slightly larger DIP package, elbowing WHP into the back seat.

Also interested in acquiring the brand is a group of Italian investors, Club Deal 8, spearheaded by entrepreneur Luciano Donatelli and including online retailer Giglio Group, the Biella-based Gruppo Verzoletto, and a silk group from Como that has requested anonymity for the time being.

In each case, the potential acquirers point to Brooks Brothers’ long history — 202 years — and American roots as among its key attributes. And although most believe the company needs to be modernized and increase its online presence, its heritage is undeniable.

Sparc operates more than 2,600 stores and shop-in-shops in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. It is the dedicated operating partner for the Aéropostale and Nautica brands and oversees businesses with more than $2.7 billion in annual global retail sales.

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