Take a look at this picture I just shot. The billboard sits in Seattle’s population-free Interbay section on 15th Avenue W at the eastern foot of the Magnolia Bridge. Depicting a dude going off a snow-covered mountain wearing Eddie Bauer garb, it proclaims,”EDDIE.SET.GO.”
It was announced yesterday that Bauer, founded in Seattle in 1920 and one of the area’s oldest companies, is in a deal to sell itself for $825 million to Jos. A. Bank Clothiers. Owned by a private equity firm, Bauer, with 370 outlets selling outdoor wear and accessories, has an estimated 500 employees at its headquarters in suburban Bellevue. Publicly listed Bank runs a chain of 600 upscale men’s clothing stores out of offices in far-away Maryland, which also just happens to have a far-cheaper cost of living.
Acquisitions like this have a funny way of evaporating or at least boiling down the top infrastructure of the acquired company–which would be Bauer. That’s why the billboard, not far from the New To Seattle world headquarters, is so ironic–even startling.
Now, there’s still a chance the deal could be aborted–and Bauer left alone and intact for the time being–if Men’s Wearhouse, another clothier, bumps up its current $1.6 billion hostile takeover bid for Banks. Still, to me this means Bauer–as well as its employees–is in play, and I don’t mean like the guy on the billboard.