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Youngor buys US shirt firm
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The nation's leading shirt and suit manufacturer, Ningbo-based Youngor Group Co Ltd, has signed an equity purchase agreement with US firm Kellwood Co and its subsidiary Kellwood Asia Ltd.


The deal is part of the local menswear producer's push to promote its brand in the US market by expanding its retail network.


Trading in Youngor Group shares was suspended in Shanghai on Monday.


Under the agreement, Youngor Group will spend about $120 million in cash to buy the Smart Shirts business under Kellwood Asia and its property assets, with 70 percent of the deal financed by banks, according to a 21st Century Business Herald report.


Smart Shirts is a menswear manufacturing and marketing operation. It makes shirts for international brands and 95 percent of its products are sold in the US and Canada, with the rest going to Europe and Asia. Kellwood Asia bought the Hong Kong business in 1982.


Youngor Group would not comment on the deal. But Kellwood said on its website that its "board of directors has unanimously approved the sale".


The proposed transaction awaits regulatory approval, which Kellwood expects by the end of the 2007 fiscal year, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.


New York-listed apparel maker Kellwood said: "Smart Shirts is not consistent with its long-term strategic plan", which is to "transform Kellwood into a brand-focused marketing enterprise".


The acquisition of Smart Shirts will give Youngor Group a larger retail network overseas and bring extra annual sales revenue of $360 million, including $12 million in net profit, the Chinese firm was quoted by the 21st Century Business Herald as saying.


This is not the first deal between Youngor Group and Kellwood. In November 2004, Kellwood Asia set up a 50-50 joint venture with Youngor Group in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, with a $6 million investment.


Youngor Group is the largest menswear manufacturer in China. In 2006, it held the biggest share of the local shirt and suit markets at 9.75 percent and 9.71 percent respectively.


(China Daily November 9, 2007)



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