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Vernon Jeans Maker Sells 50% Stake to Raise Cash

Times Staff Writer

7 for All Mankind, a Vernon-based maker of high-end jeans, said Thursday that it sold a 50% stake in its operation to raise cash for expansion.

Bear Stearns Merchant Banking, the private equity arm of Bear Stearns Cos., acquired half of 7 for All Mankind this week for between $75 million and $100 million, BSMB Chief Executive John Howard said.

The deal “gives me the opportunity to take some money off the table and have a financial partner that has the same vision as I do,” said 7 for All Mankind President Peter Koral.

The deal gives 7 for All Mankind the financial clout to consider several options, a spokeswoman said, including going public or launching a line of branded retail stores.

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Koral said he would remain as president and chairman of the company, which had sales of $200 million last year.

The company’s jeans, sold in trendy boutiques and in high-end stores, can cost $200 or more a pair. Popular with young celebrities, the jeans reportedly were included in gift bags at Britney Spears’ wedding last year.

7 for All Mankind is embroiled in a court battle with Seven Licensing Co., a Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturer that claims the company’s name is a breach of the settlement the two companies reached in 2004 to distinguish their brands.

Another suit, leveled by two former partners who founded 7 for All Mankind with Koral, claimed Koral used profits from the business to prop up a separate sportswear company, L’Koral Industries. That suit, Howard said, was settled this year.

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Despite the legal trouble, the company has expanded. It employs 150 people and sells jeans in 64 countries.


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