Judge OKs WPS auction process

NEW YORK — WestPoint Stevens cleared a final hurdle and headed toward the finish line earlier today after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved a set of bidding procedures that will lead to the sale of the company in just nine weeks, and its exit from a protracted bankruptcy some time in August.

After almost two hours of infighting and jockeying for position between lawyers for investor Carl Icahn and a steering committee for WestPoint creditors tied to investor Wilbur Ross, Judge Robert Drain green-lighted a blueprint that will govern the auction process for the major mill.

The date for the auction remains in place for June 21, with WestPoint deciding shortly after who has won the company — Icahn, Ross or a dark horse candidate yet to emerge. Judge Drain commented during the hearing, "There is a distinct possibility that a third party might come in."

A hearing in Drain's court is set for three days later, June 24, to confirm the auction process and the winner. Weeks later, some time in August, the company is expected to emerge from Chapter 11, virtually free of debt.

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