Kenneth Cole Sees Resistance to Buyout Offer

Signs of resistance to Kenneth Cole’s offer to take his namesake company private have emerged.

The special committee of independent directors at Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. announced Tuesday it has appointed BofA Merrill Lynch as its independent financial adviser to help evaluate Cole’s offer to privatize the company for $15 a share.

After Cole, chairman and chief creative officer of his namesake firm, proposed last month to acquire all the outstanding shares that he does not already own, the special committee requested that Cole “reconsider his position that he is unwilling to consider any alternative proposals.” 

A day after the request, Cole, who holds 47 percent of the firm’s shares and 89 percent of the voting power, responded that he did not intend to change his position.

BofA Merrill Lynch will now assist the committee in considering any alternative transactions if the committee “deems it appropriate,” the firm said in a statement.

“There can be no assurance that any definitive offer will be received, that any agreement will be executed or that the transaction contemplated in the proposal or any other transaction will be approved or consummated,” said the statement.

It also added that “the special committee cautions the company’s shareholders and others considering trading in its securities that no decision has been made with respect to the special committee’s response to the proposal.”

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