Antitrust Snag for Clothiers' Merger Deal?

By Josh Boak

Jos. A. Bank (JOSB) raised doubts Sunday about whether the federal government would approve the takeover bid by rival clothier Men's Wearhouse (MW).

Directors for Jos. A. Bank noted in a letter that the Federal Trade Commission had sent Men's Wearhouse a second request for information as part of its antitrust review.

"It is a very serious step for the FTC to issue a second request," the letter said. "Our two companies' stockholders should understand that second requests are issued in less than 2% of all transactions filed with the government, and a high percentage of those transactions are never completed."

The two retailers have been dueling since October, when Jos. A. Bank, based in Hampstead, Md., offered $2.3 billion for Men's Wearhouse.

Men's Wearhouse, based in Fremont, Calif., rejected that bid and also cited antitrust issues. It then countered with a $1.61 billion offer to buy Jos. A. Bank. Last month, that offer was rejected as too low, leading Men's Wearhouse to send a letter Thursday saying it would be willing to raise its offer.

Jos. A. Bank sells men's tailored and casual clothing and shoes and is known for ads that say consumers can buy one suit or sport coat and get three for free. Men's Wearhouse runs its namesake chains, as well as the Moores and the K&G chains.

A representative for Men's Wearhouse did not respond to an email seeking comment.

 
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