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