Byline: Jeff Siegel

NEW YORK — As negotiations to purchase the assets of Crystal Brands in Chapter 11 proceedings draw to a close, Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. has emerged as the front-runner, a source close to the negotiations said Monday.
As reported, P-VH bid $120 million in November to purchase Crystal Brands. Donaldson, Lufkin, Jenrette’s Merchant Banking Group, offered $125 million and Salant Corp. said it was interested but was waiting to make an offer. Neither P-VH nor DLJ’s Merchant Banking Group broke out the specific cash or notes makeup of their bids.
The source said there was a second party with whom Crystal was still talking but that P-VH was in the driver’s seat and there might be an agreement in a day or two.
Myron Trepper, of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, counsel to P-VH, declined to comment, stating only that P-VH was “continuing” to negotiate and “real progress” had been made.
Attorneys for Crystal Brands, who at a hearing this month said the firm was “very close” to agreeing to be acquired, did not return calls seeking comment. In Chapter 11 since Jan. 21, 1994, Crystal Brands sold off its costume jewelry operations late last year and now is primarily a men’s wear maker under the labels Izod, Salty Dog and Gant apparel, although it maintains some women’s operations.