Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Could Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. be eyeing a purchase of the entire Warnaco Group?
According to reports circulating Wednesday, PVH may be negotiating to buy all of the bankrupt Warnaco as a pre-packaged deal, and would then sell off assets it didn’t want.
Among Warnaco’s key brands are CK Calvin Klein Jeans, Calvin Klein Underwear, Warner’s, Olga, Chaps by Ralph Lauren and Speedo.
Bruce Klatsky, chairman and chief executive offer of PVH, was traveling Wednesday and unavailable for comment. A spokesman for Warnaco declined comment on PVH, and would only say: “We are continuing to sell our noncore assets and look at our core assets in terms of the best way of restructuring them.” He said within the next several months, Warnaco will have some clarification to what its plan is.
PVH, which is sitting on a lot of cash, has closed down retail stores and focused its attention on its branded business in recent years.
Andrew Jassin, managing director of Jassin O’Rourke Group, a management consulting firm, said a potential PVH acquisition of Warnaco makes sense, as PVH could sell off pieces that it didn’t want, such as the lingerie business. “PVH is a very well-positioned company with a great management team in place from top to bottom. It would be natural for a company like PVH to make an acquisition such as Warnaco, if that were the case,” said Jassin.
In the last few weeks, there has also been speculation that Warnaco was closing in on a deal to sell off CK Jeans and Underwear..
Calvin Klein Inc. recently severed ties with longtime men’s Collection licensee GFT Net and plans to bring production in-house by spring 2003 and relicense the affected CK Calvin Klein lines. PVH would be a natural for the men’s dress shirt line and is rumored to be in discussions for it.
Warnaco filed papers early this month in Manhattan bankruptcy court that said it had distributed investment information concerning four of its core operations — Calvin Klein Jeans, Calvin Klein Underwear, Intimate Apparel and Authentic Fitness — to prospective buyers, some of whom have conducted preliminary due diligence and submitted preliminary bids.
As for Warnaco’s noncore businesses, the sale or liquidation process for Ubertech, ABS by Allen Schwartz, Lejaby and IZKA are “well under way,” court documents said. Allen B. Schwartz, design director and former owner of ABS, the $50 million Los Angeles-based contemporary dress and sportswear firm, told WWD Wednesday that although people have looked at the company, “I know of no deals in the works.”

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