American Apparel, the struggling retailer set to emerge from bankruptcy this month, has received a takeover bid of more than $200 million from an investor working with ousted Chief Executive Officer Dov Charney, according to people familiar with the situation. Should the offer be accepted and a deal completed, the plan would be for Charney to return in some capacity to the company he founded in 1998, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. Charney, 46, was fired more than a year ago after allegations of misconduct, charges that his lawyer has denied. The proposal has committed financing, according to the people.
In his bid to return, Charney faces long odds because American Apparel’s bankruptcy case is reaching its final stages. Suffering declining sales and losses, the company sought protection from creditors in October with a prearranged plan that hands ownership of the company to bondholders, led by Monarch Alternative Capital, in exchange for a reduction in debt. The plan was supported by 95 percent of secured lenders, who will be fully repaid under the proposal.
If the bankruptcy plan is approved by creditors as expected, the judge overseeing the case would make a final decision on Jan. 20. For Charney to succeed, he would need to get the company and its creditors to accept his offer. If they refuse, Charney and his financial backer would then need to persuade the judge to reject American Apparel’s reorganization plan.
Charney took the initial steps toward that goal late Thursday, when he filed an objection to the current reorganization plan, saying he has advanced an alternative restructuring proposal by well-funded investors. The offer doesn’t have any financing contingencies and diligence is substantially complete, according to the filing. The bid would provide the company with total liquidity of $170 million upon exiting bankruptcy, compared with $80 million under the current plan, the filing said.
Representatives for Charney and his financial adviser, Cardinal Advisors LLC, declined to comment.
American Apparel declined to answer specific questions about the offer, saying in an e-mailed statement that it “evaluates all bids consistently, and in the ordinary course. The company remains focused on pursuing the completion of its financial restructuring following its planned bankruptcy court hearing at the end of this month.”
Charney said in December that he was working with a financial adviser on an offer and had been in talks with potential financial partners. The former CEO has been pushing for his return since he was first suspended from his job in June 2014. Later that year, Irving Place Capital was working with Charney and submitted a letter of interest with an offer price, but a deal stalled.
Moelis & Co., the investment bank American Apparel is using to seek out and assess potential offers, said in court documents that the company would be valued at between $180 million and $270 million. That estimate included assumptions, such as that American Apparel would hit sales targets in the next few years and that it would leave bankruptcy with no more than $135 million in debt.
The retailer was struggling with losses and debt under Charney, and its results only worsened after his dismissal. When it filed for bankruptcy protection, it had $199.3 million in assets and $397.5 million in debt.
The board suspended Charney after it saying it found examples of misusing corporate funds and violating the company’s sexual-harassment policy. Following more inquiries, American Apparel made his firing official in December 2014.
The case is In re American Apparel Inc., 15-12055, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware