Kasper’s New Friend: Jones Wins Auction With $216.6M Offer

Jones Apparel Group won out over Kellwood Co. in a bankruptcy court auction for Kasper A.S.L., in a bid worth $216.6 million.

NEW YORK — Kasper A.S.L. has found its home at last — and it’s under the corporate umbrella of Jones Apparel Group.

In the final auction Thursday, Jones gained ownership of Kasper, along with its signature suit and Anne Klein businesses, with a bid totalling $216.6 million.

Jones beat out Kellwood Co., which in June became the stalking horse with a $163.6 million bid for Kasper. This spring, Jones had been seen as the leading candidate for the firm.

The winning bid consisted of $204 million in cash and the assumption of $12.6 million in prepaid royalties. A bankruptcy court hearing is set for Thursday for approval of the winning offer. If granted, the sale will be implemented through an amended plan of reorganization filed with the court, which will require approval of Kasper’s creditors. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.

Jones’ chief executive officer, Peter Boneparth, told WWD he was “delighted” by the outcome of the auction. “This acquisition fits our strategy from a number of different perspectives.”

While Kasper will bring Jones the dominate position in the U.S. suit business, it also brings $358 million in annual sales. When the license for the Lauren by Ralph Lauren better line reverted back to Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. from Jones in June, as reported, more than half a billion in annual sales went with it. In 2002, the line brought in $548 million.

The acquisition helps fill that void, as will sales from Jones New York Signature, the firm’s new better line, but Boneparth said keeping up the top line was not the motivating force behind the deal — rather, it was other strategic considerations.

“We didn’t really start this acquisition to go out and find $500 million in revenues,” he said.

In addition to adding “a great stable of brands” to the company, he said Kasper’s distribution in the better department stores is familiar ground for Jones.

“When you look at the sum of this, it really was a pretty easy decision for us to go after this,” said Boneparth. “We’re trying to achieve a balance across our business.”
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