By Soma Biswas 

Apparel-licensing firm Authentic Brands Group LLC and mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. won a competition to supply financing to carry Brooks Brothers Group Inc. through bankruptcy, elbowing aside a rival by offering an extraordinary zero-interest loan package.

The $80 million loan from a venture between Authentic and Simon beat out WHP Global Inc.'s $75 million offer, Brooks Brothers lawyers said Friday during a virtual hearing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.

The two ventures, both of which are exploring bids for control of Brooks Brothers, specialize in plucking recognizable brands out of struggling or bankrupt companies and giving them a new life, aiming for profitability that eluded them in the past.

Brooks Brothers became their latest target after the storied company filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday, a victim of the coronavirus pandemic's impact on retail.

The retailer, which struggled in recent years with a shift toward more casual dress styles at work, had been searching for a buyer since last year with the help of investment bank PJ Solomon. Brooks Brothers is continuing discussions with multiple interested buyers, lawyers for the company said at Friday's hearing.

The company accepted the "significantly better" loan offer from Authentic and Simon after negotiations over the prior 24 hours, said Brooks Brothers lawyer Connor Flaherty.

The unprecedented winning loan comes with no interest or fees, Brooks Brothers' advisers said.

Both loan offers required the Brooks Brothers branding and trademarks as collateral, ensuring that even if the company winds up liquidating, the lenders would gain control over the intellectual property. Lenders that finance companies through bankruptcy have greater power over the process than nearly any other participant.

The growing list of retail bankruptcies has created many opportunities for licensing firms such as Authentic and WHP, which was founded in 2018 with backing from Oaktree Capital Management LP.

Simon has also become a frequent bidder for bankrupt retailers with the added motivation of keeping key tenants in its malls, paying rent.

The Authentic-Simon venture, Sparc LLC, also owns the branding behind retails names Aéropostale, Nautica and Forever 21. Last week, it made an offer to buy denim chain Lucky Brands Dungarees LLC out of bankruptcy.

Last year, Authentic teamed up with Saks Fifth Avenue parent Hudson's Bay Co. to buy high-end department store Barneys New York Inc. out of bankruptcy.

WHP owns Anne Klein, the women's clothing line, and recently bought out midprice men's apparel brand Joseph Abboud from Men's Wearhouse owner Tailored Brands Inc.

Write to Soma Biswas at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 10, 2020 19:07 ET (23:07 GMT)

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