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(Reuters) - Brand licensor Marquee Brands LLC is leading a consortium that is preparing a bid for BCBG Max Azria Group LLC, which would allow the U.S. fashion house to exit bankruptcy with a footprint of 15 to 20 stores, people familiar with the matter said.
The move could spare BCBG the fate of other bankrupt retailers who have completely gone out of business and sold their brands, such as The Limited Stores, American Apparel and Wet Seal.
Marquee has partnered with Global Brands Group Holding Limited (0787.HK), a spin-off of global exporter Li & Fung Ltd (0494.HK), which already has a licensing agreement for some of BCBG's brands, the sources said.
The consortium plans to make a "stalking-horse" bid for BCBG that would set the floor for any other proposals in a bankruptcy auction for the retailer to be held as soon as this month, the sources added.
Liquidators Hilco Global and Gordon Brothers are also members of the consortium, the sources said.
A successful starting bid for BCBG must total at least $150 million, one of the sources said, and a U.S. bankruptcy court judge must approve the final sale.
The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. BCBG declined to comment. Marquee, Global Brands, Gordon Brothers and Hilco did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Other potential bidders include buyout firm Sycamore Partners and brand licensor Bluestar Alliance LLC, the sources said. Sycamore Partners declined to comment. Bluestar did not immediately return a request for comment.
BCBG, which is owned by investment firm Guggenheim Partners, filed for bankruptcy in March after it fell behind in rent payments and struggled with a debt load of about $485 million.
BCBG had scheduled a bankruptcy auction for last month, but delayed it to give bidders more time to finalize their offers for the high-end retailer, a favorite of celebrities including Selena Gomez and Drew Barrymore.
Marquee owns British menswear brand Ben Sherman, surf line Body Glove and Bruno Magli, an Italian fashion line.
Global Brands in April sold a majority stake of The Frye Company brand, known for its cowboy boots, to brand licensor Authentic Brands Group for $100 million. Global Brands continues to operate Frye's retail stores and e-commerce.
Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay