BARNEYS SAID TO HAVE CH. 11 VET LINED UP

Byline: David Moin — contributions by Rich Wilner

NEW YORK — Barneys New York has got its man.
The bankrupt retailer is expected to seek court permission, possibly as soon as today, to hire John P. Brincko, a 17-year veteran of corporate restructurings across a range of industries, sources said Wednesday.
His title reportedly will be senior Chapter 11 restructuring officer, reporting to Charles Bunstine, president and chief operating officer, and co-ceo’s Robert and Gene Pressman.
Barneys has been seeking a seasoned executive to guide it through the bankruptcy ordeal, calm the nerves of jittery creditors and put a financial leash on the company.
“None of the Barney’s executives have been through this before,” said a source. “He’ll provide technical expertise in legal and accounting aspects. He’ll give recommendations on what the company should look like.” “He’s perfect for the case. His no-nonsense ability to cut through tough issues will certainly help Barneys,” said another source who previously worked with Brincko.
Barneys officials could not be reached for comment.
At the outset of the Chapter 11, filed on Jan. 10, it was clear to creditors — specifically, Chemical Bank and other lenders — that Barneys needed more expertise. While they didn’t make the hiring of a Chapter 11 veteran mandatory to get the $100 million in emergency funding to keep the chain operating, the creditors “strongly suggested” Barneys find more help.
The debtor-in-possession financing agreement, however, actually stipulated that Barneys hire a Chapter 11 pro.
Brincko has a consulting firm, Brincko Associates, based in Los Angeles. He reportedly will sign a one-year contract with Barneys. Among his past assignments, he worked on Sun World International, which grows and exports grapes; Globe Security, a large security firm, Grey Advertising and Max Factor.
Barneys could file papers seeking court approval on the appointment as early as today. A hearing could be held next week. The creditors’ committee and Chemical are aware of the appointment, sources said.
Among his initial duties will be to study Barneys financial data and participate in mediation with Isetan, Barneys’ partner. The mediation talks should be resumed soon, considering Barneys has an April 19 court date to discuss any progress in the talks. The main issues are over how much rent is owed Isetan, Barneys’ landlord for its stores on Madison Avenue, and in Chicago and Beverly Hills, and the nature of the partnership.

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