The race to buy bankrupt Barneys ain’t over till its over.
The auction has been canceled and Authentic Brands Group has a credible court-accepted offer in, but other parties say they still have time to put together bids of their own.
“Yes, we are still pursuing the asset,” David Jackson, chairman of the luxury investment and advisory firm Solitaire Partners, told WWD on Friday. “We are targeting the Oct. 31 date,” which is when a hearing will be held to make a final determination on who gets to buy Barneys.
“We are confident that we will submit a competitive bid but still have some work to do internally,” Jackson said. He said Solitaire is being backed by Middle Eastern investors in its quest for Barneys.
Sam Ben-Avraham, the trade show veteran and Kith backer, came up short with a bid earlier in the week, but he is reportedly working to improve his offer.
Some industry sources have questioned whether Solitaire’s efforts are wholehearted, given the firm jumped into the sale process late in the game. Asked about that, Jackson replied, “I’m sure we have our doubters, and we are comfortable being in the underdog role.”
Jackson is very familiar with Barneys, having served as chief executive officer of the Dubai-based investment fund Istithmar when it acquired Barneys from Jones Apparel Group in a 2007 all-cash deal that valued the retailer at $942.3 million. The Istithmar deal for Barneys saddled the luxury retailer with more than $600 million in debt and Richard Perry as the major lender.
In 2012, with both Isitithmar and Barneys struggling, Perry became Barneys’ owner, circumventing a possible bankruptcy back then. Istithmar still owned about 8 percent of the retailer’s equity when it was finally forced to file for Chapter 11 last August.
Jamie Salter’s Authentic Brands Group plans to liquidate Barneys’ inventory while installing shops-in-shop in Saks Fifth Avenue and potentially keeping some stores open.