United States Senator Charles E Schumer, in a personal call to Wells Fargo & Company Chairman Richard Kovacevich, will tonight urge the company to accept a new, competitive bid for Hartmarx, parent company of Rochester business icon, Hickey Freeman. Schumer will urge the bank to accept the bid, as it will allow the company to come out of bankruptcy intact and operational, preserving some 600plus jobs in Rochester and scores more in Buffalo. Schumer noted that this offer to Wells Fargo - Hartmarx's main creditor - is very competitive and would return 7080 cents on the dollar to the company's creditors. Liquidating the company would cause great economic turmoil, particularly in Rochester where Hickey Freeman employs 600plus workers; scores more are employed in Buffalo. The offer, made by Emerisque - an investment firm - was made on Monday and expires tonight.
"HickeyFreeman/Hartmarx is a Rochester icon and a vibrant business with hundreds of workers that must be saved. This is a viable, competitive bid and Wells Fargo needs to hear the message loud and clear that it should be accepted, and the firm should be kept open and viable" said Senator Schumer. "Wells Fargo has received billions in direct government support to get them through this crisis. Now they must help justify the taxpayers' investment and respond positively to a generous bid that will allow it to stay open and preserve 600plus jobs in Rochester, scores more in Buffalo, and 3000 jobs across the country."
Over the past 6 months, Schumer has been deeply involved in the drive to save Hartmarx. In personal phone calls with Hartmarx CEO Homi Patel and the heads of Wells Fargo and Wachovia, Schumer worked to preserve Hartmarx's credit lines and keep them out of bankruptcy as long as possible. After the company was forced to declare bankruptcy, Schumer has been working with its creditors to give Hartsmarx the time it needs reorganize and to solicit bids that will allow it to stay open. Last week Schumer urged Wells Fargo to select one of the two "ongoing concern" bids for Hartmarx that had materialized, and avoid liquidation.
The Hartmarx Corporation and its U.S. subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. Schumer is standing with the 3000 employees of Hartsmarx, union leadership, and other elected officials from across the country in working to prevent liquidation. Recently workers in the Hartmarx plant in Chicago have staged sitins, drawing nationwide attention to the possibility of liquidation. Schumer is ratcheting up pressure on Wells Fargo to save the company and the jobs.
Wells Fargo received $25 billion in bailout funds through the TARP program.
Hartmarx produces and markets business, casual and golf apparel under its own brands, including Hart Schaffner Marx, HickeyFreeman, Palm Beach, Coppley, Monarchy, Manchester Escapes, Society Brand, Racquet Club, Naturalife, Pusser's of the West Indies, Brannoch, Sansabelt, Exclusively Misook, Barrie Pace, Eye, Christopher Blue, Worn, One Girl Who . . . and b.chyll. In addition, the Company has certain exclusive rights under licensing agreements to market selected products under a number of premier brands such as Austin Reed, Burberry men's tailored clothing, Ted Baker, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Claiborne, Pierre Cardin, Lyle & Scott, Golden Bear, Jag and Dr. Martens. The Company's broad range of distribution channels includes fine specialty and leading department stores, valueoriented retailers and direct mail catalogs.