LESLIE FAY SAID EYEING STEFFE BUY

NEW YORK — The Leslie Fay Co. is again ready to buy.
Its next target appears to be Cynthia Steffe, which produces the Cynthia Steffe signature collection and two contemporary sportswear lines, Cynthia and The Bottom Line, market sources told WWD.
Representatives from Leslie Fay declined to comment Friday, but president John Ward told WWD in December the company was hungry to grow.
“We are very active in an acquisition mode right now,” Ward said at the time.
“I’m confident 2000 will bring some new acquisitions to Leslie Fay, primarily in the dress category.”
Cynthia Steffe president Richard Roberts, while declining to comment specifically on this matter, said Friday, “We are interested in setting up a strategic partnership to grow our business more rapidly than it is growing now.”
Within the past two years, Leslie Fay has made two key acquisitions: the license to Liz Claiborne dresses, which was announced in February, and the purchase of the Warren Group, an estimated $40 million business, which produces dresses under the David Warren, Warren Petites, Reggio and Rimini labels.
Sources also said Leslie Fay was close to signing a licensing agreement for footwear under the Leslie Fay label.
The new agreement follows two other licensing pacts — one for knits under the Outlander sportswear label and another for Leslie Fay hosiery.
Leslie Fay emerged from bankruptcy protection in June 1997, four years after an accounting scandal about misstated earnings from 1990 through 1992 forced the company into Chapter 11 proceedings.