Men's Wearhouse turns hostile in pursuit of Jos. A. Bank

Mon Jan 6, 2014 8:56am EST
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By Chris Peters

(Reuters) - Men's Wearhouse Inc MW.N mounted a hostile $1.61 billion bid for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc JOSB.O in an attempt to break the resistance of its smaller rival and pacify investor demand for a merger of the suit retailers.

Men's Wearhouse offered $57.50 per share for Jos. A. Bank, above its previous bid and a 6 percent premium to the stock's close on Friday. Premarket trading was thin in shares of both companies, which share some of the same investors.

By upping its offer and taking it to every Jos. A. Bank shareholder, Men's Wearhouse is raising the stakes in a protracted battle between rivals intent on playing the lead role in the creation of a combined chain with 1,700 stores.

The offer, higher than its previous bid of $55 per share, will also test the poison pill defense adopted by Jos. A. Bank on Friday. The company lowered the trigger to 10 percent from 20 percent to make a takeover more difficult.

Men's Wearhouse Chief Executive Doug Ewert said the company would prefer to work with Jos. A. Bank, but would pursue its target regardless.

"We are committed to this combination and, accordingly, we are taking our offer directly to shareholders," Ewert said.

Men's Wearhouse also said it would nominate two independent directors for election to Jos. A. Bank's board.

Jos. A. Bank could not be reached for immediate comment outside regular U.S. business hours.   Continued...

The Men's Wearhouse sign is seen outside its store in Westminster, Colorado September 11, 2013. Men's Wearhouse Inc is due to release their Q2 2013 earnings. REUTERS/Rick Wilking