Iconix Approaches Tommy But Hilfiger Plays It Cool

Iconix Brand Group knocked on J.P. Morgan Chase's door looking to make a bid for Tommy Hilfiger Corp., but got a chilly response.

NEW YORK — Iconix Brand Group knocked on J.P. Morgan Chase's door on Friday looking to make a bid for Tommy Hilfiger Corp., but got a chilly response.

According to Robert D'Loren of UCC Capital, Iconix's banker and investment adviser, he contacted the bank on Friday about the company's interest in making a bid but was told Hilfiger was "not for sale." The investment banking firm even denied a book was available.

WWD reported exclusively Wednesday night on its Web site that several vendors already have been shown some form of a prospectus — commonly referred to as a book, but it could even be as simple as a memorandum — containing information about earnings projections, price multiples and other confidential information on the company's operations.

One financial source told WWD the information was shown to a select group of potential buyers, and that the process may not turn into an open auction for another 30 days.

"When that happens, we're going to be a bidder," D'Loren predicted.

The banker said he had a meeting with Neil Cole, Iconix's chairman, president and chief executive officer, Friday morning about putting in a bid for Hilfiger.

"We have very serious interest in the company. We also have the capacity to do it. I spent the morning raising money. We have what we need to do a deal," D'Loren said.

Iconix, the company formerly known as Candies Inc. until midsummer, has changed its model from a manufacturer to a brand management firm. So far, the company isn't on the radar screen of equity analysts at the larger investment houses, but has seen interest from so-called small-cap investors, as well as hedge funds. The company also isn't viewed as a big player on the European front, nor even as a retail operator.

Still, D'Loren doesn't foresee these issues as stumbling blocks in a bid for Hilfiger, which has a substantial retail outlet operation in the U.S. and a successful and growing European business.

"None of that is a problem. That's not foreign to us, and it's nothing that we haven't dealt with before, just more zeros involved," D'Loren said.

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