February 6, 2014

Jos. A. Bank considering Eddie Bauer purchase

Menswear retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. is in talks to buy clothing chain Eddie Bauer, reports The Wall Street Journal. News of the deal comes during what has now become an almost half-year long struggle between Jos. A. Bank and rival Men's Warehouse to buy each other. 

In October 2013, Jos A. Banks announced its intention to buy Men's Wearhouse. After that proposal was rejected, Men's Warehouse then attempted to pursue the same acquisition strategy with Jos. A. Bank. That deal also failed to go through. 

Despite its failure to take over Men's Wearhouse, Jos. A Bank has been very vocal about its intent to takeover other clothing chains. In a January filing the Maryland-based retailer said that it "has been and is continuing to engage in preliminary negotiations that could result in an extraordinary transaction, including the acquisition of a business or assets from a third party that would be material to the company."

An unnamed source familiar with the ongoing business dealings of Jos. A. Bank told The Wall Street Journal that the company recently signed several nondisclosure agreements for possible business acquisitions for retailers other than Men's Wearhouse. 

Eddie Bauer is a Bellevue, Washington-based casual clothing and sportswear retailer with 370 stores in the United States and Canada. Jos A. Bank currently has 800 outlets across North America. 

One entity is firmly against Jos. A. Bank's interest in Eddie Bauer. Hedge fund Eminence Capital LLC owns large stakes in both Jos. A. Bank and Men's Wearhouse. In January, it filed a complaint in a Delaware court seeking to block Jos. A. Bank's efforts to acquire any more assets. Eminence Capital says that any purchase would make it too expensive for Men's Wearhouse to make another attempt at a purchase.