NEW YORK — Reports persist that Michel Zelnik is heading an investment group that is trying to purchase Bidermann Industries U.S.A. from its parent firm, Bidermann SA.
Industry talk emerged in mid-October that Zelnik was planning such a deal, but at the time, Zelnik denied it.
Reached Tuesday, Zelnik said he had “no comment.”
The U.S. company, which holds the license for Ralph Lauren Womenswear, also includes the Bidermann Tailored Clothing division, which produces the Yves Saint Laurent label and the recently introduced Arrow Sport Club clothing line. It also has the Gold Toe socks and Arrow shirt business. Sources estimate the U.S. business does $600 million a year in volume.
It is estimated that the debt of Bidermann Industries is about $172 million, related mainly to the 1990 acquisition of Cluett, Peabody, which included the Arrow Co. and Gold Toe hosiery.
“He [Zelnik] is the only one capable of taking the business and running it,” said one source. “That’s why he came back. He didn’t come back as the former employee to pick up the pieces.”
Last month, a federal judge here temporarily barred Maurice Bidermann from selling or diluting his majority stake in Bidermann SA, threatening to disrupt the proposed sale of the company to two French investors, Alain N¦marcq and Leo Gross. The deal required that Bidermann’s U.S. operation be separated from the holding company.
It is understood that the board hasn’t formally put the U.S. firm on the block, but it did retain an investment firm to determine the company’s value and flush out prospective buyers.

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