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Jos. A. Bank rejects Men's Wearhouse offer again, but says it's open to higher bid

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HAMPSTEAD, Md. - Men's clothing company Jos. A. Bank rejected Men's Wearhouse $1.78 billion sweetened acquisition offer late Thursday. But it said it is willing to meet with its rival chain over a possible higher bid.

Men's Wearhouse Inc. said Monday it would offer $63.50 per share for Jos. A. Bank, up from its prior bid of $57.50 per share. The Houston company also said it could raise the bid to $65 per share, if some conditions are met.

On Thursday, Jos. A. Bank said it was willing to meet with Men's Wearhouse to discuss the higher bid.

The raised offer came 10 days after Jos. A Bank announced that it was planning to buy the parent company of Eddie Bauer in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $825 million. But at the time Jos. A. Bank left the door open, saying that it may end the Eddie Bauer deal if it receives an acquisition offer that is superior.

Meanwhile, Men's Wearhouse on Monday filed a lawsuit in Delaware against Jos. A. Bank and its board and the companies involved in the Eddie Bauer transaction, saying that the move was designed to thwart its offer. It wants the court to order Jos. A. Bank's board to rescind its shareholder rights plan and provide an order stopping the companies from moving forward with the Eddie Bauer deal.

On Thursday, Jos. A. Bank said it cleared a regulatory hurdle in the planned purchase of Eddie Bauer's parent company. It also said financing for the deal is proceeding on track.

The back-and-forth between Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank started in October, when Jos. A. Bank offered to buy its larger rival for $2.3 billion. Men's Wearhouse scoffed at that offer, and turned the tables, offering to buy its rival for $1.54 billion. But after Hampstead, Md.-based Jos. A Bank turned down that overture, Men's Wearhouse increased its bid to $1.6 billion, and then again to $1.78 billion.

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