PARIS — The rescue plan for Bidermann SA has hit another major glitch.
On Thursday, Alain Némarcq, the president of Tehen who has put together a refinancing plan for Bidermann with partner Léo Gros, said that he would withdraw his deal for the company if he couldn’t sign an agreement with Bidermann SA and its creditors by Nov. 18.
While the Némarcq and Gros plan had been accepted in principle by Bidermann’s board last month, no agreement had been signed. To date, Maurice Bidermann, chairman and majority shareholder of Bidermann SA, has declined to comment on any aspect of these transactions.
The Némarcq and Gros bid was blocked earlier this week when U.S. District Judge Robert F. Patterson ruled that Maurice Bidermann could not refinance or restructure Bidermann SA. Patterson’s ruling was in response to a suit by Rexnord Holding, which has a $13 million claim against Bidermann Industries, the French company’s U.S. operations. Last month Stephen J. Blauner, of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, counsel to Rexnord, filed suit and obtained a restraining order halting the Némarcq and Gros deal, which would significantly shrink Maurice Bidermann’s stake in his company. Blauner claimed that this would have endangered Rexnord’s claim.
“We said from the beginning that we could only do this deal if we could take over the operations by Dec. 31,” said Némarcq, who added that to reach that goal, his plan would have to be signed by the end of next week so that legal matters could be wrapped up in time.
The Némarcq deal also requires that Bidermann Industries in the U.S. be separated from the Bidermann holding company. Bidermann Industries has, among other businesses, the license for Ralph Lauren Womenswear.
Némarcq stressed that timing is essential because “Bidermann S.A. is effectively bankrupt.”
“The situation of the French company is so bad that if we cannot start restructuring [in January], it will be too late,” Némarcq said.
He added that he felt that Rexnord president Jeffrey J. Steiner does not seem to understand that he will not be able to win his $13 million claim with an insolvent Bidermann.
“I would think Steiner would want a claim against a healthy company where Maurice Bidermann holds a 20 percent stake than a claim against a bankrupt company where Bidermann owns 87 percent,” said Némarcq. “But none of this is really my problem. My problem is to let Bidermann and its creditors know that I will not wait later than Nov. 18.”
— Fairchild News Service

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