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NexCen Selling Brands

Waverly Bidders Compete, Blass Next on Block

Licensing and franchise company NexCen Brands "is moving very quickly" in its quest to raise funds by selling its Waverly and Bill Blass brands, the company said.

Rick Platt, president of the Waverly and Bill Blass brands for home, said there are more bidders for the Waverly brand than has been reported. Published reports in the New York Post last week cited NexCen rival Iconix Brand Group and an investment group led by Windsong Brands and Hilco Consumer Capital. (One figure behind the scenes — legendary merchant/marketer Marvin Traub — sits on the board of NexCen and is also chairman of SD Retailing, a Hilco division.)

"The priority has been with the Waverly brand, but we will be starting up the effort with Bill Blass in a week or two," Platt told HTT.

As for pricing on the Waverly brand, Platt commented, "We paid $36.9 million and we believe we have made tremendous progress. The strategy is strong, the revenue streams are very good and we've added significant new licenses."

"Our goal is to get paid more for the brand or at least what we paid," Platt said. "We expect to get paid for all the work we've done."

Two Waverly licensees contacted by HTT said they were confident about their business.

Ron Kaufmann, ceo of decorative fabric house P/Kaufmann, said, "The Waverly license has been a good acquisition. We want to see how the NexCen situation plays out; we didn't have much of a relationship with NexCen, so things should be fine for us. I'm pleased with the way the license is going."

From Budd Goldman, ceo of Ellery Homestyles, the Waverly licensee for decorative bedding: "It's unfortunate what has occurred; from our view there is no impact on our Waverly business. Waverly stands on its own and we don't see any problems. We're very comfortable on a going forward basis — it's business as usual."

NexCen, which has been strapped for funds, has forged an agreement with lender BTMU Capital Corporation that gives it access to cash from its lockbox account, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The lockbox account arrangement had choked off NexCen's liquidity, causing the company to seek strategic alternatives with assistance from investment bank N M Rothschild & Sons. NexCen said it is working with BTMU to restructure its borrowing facility, particularly an accelerated principal payment requirement scheduled for October.

"The company has received numerous expressions of interest in both the Bill Blass and Waverly brands from domestic and international strategic and financial buyers and is working with Rothschild to evaluate the possibilities," the filing stated.

The recent agreement with BTMU provides NexCen with forbearance from certain defaults under its borrowing facility. The agreement extends through July 17, although it terminates earlier if new faults occur, according to the filing.

"Securing a long-term solution to the company's liquidity requirements remains one of management's top priorities and this agreement is an important step in enabling us to continue to implement our operating plans for both our license and franchise businesses," said Robert D'Loren, NexCen ceo.

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