Bankrupt Barneys says it has bidders interested in buying it, but lenders are still full of doom and gloom

Barneys flagship tour

Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Barneys may have a buyer - but it's not out of the woods yet.

  • In a call with the bankruptcy court on Friday, Barneys representatives and lawyers said the luxury retailer has several interested buyers. The luxury department store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August.
  • However, lenders on the line seemed "less optimistic" that the company would avoid liquidation, according to a report shared with Business Insider by Debtwire, a branch of the market research firm Acuris.
  • According to Bloomberg, Barneys has five potential buyers, two of which are asking for all of the company's assets and at least one hailing from an investment firm with ties to the retail industry.
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Bankrupt Barneys may have interested buyers, but that doesn't mean it's in the clear.

On Friday afternoon, the luxury department store participated in a conference call with Judge Cecelia Morris of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, according to a report from Debtwire, a branch of the market research firm Acuris. Friday was the official deadline for Barneys to receive letters of intent from possible buyers after filing for bankruptcy in August.
During the call, Barneys representatives and lawyers reportedly shared that the company has received letters of intent from interested buyers, and subsequently debtor-in-possession lenders have extended deadlines to allow further negotiations to proceed. According to Bloomberg, there are five potential buyers, two of which are asking for all of Barneys' assets, while at least one is said to be an investment firm with ties to the retail industry.

Read more: The rise and fall of Barneys, the iconic New York luxury department store teetering on the brink of collapse

Despite presenting interested buyers, lenders on the call "sounded less optimistic" about Barneys avoiding liquidation, according to Debtwire. One such lender - Sidney Levison of Jones Day, representing the group that extended negotiation deadlines - said Barneys now has until October 3 to definitively find a solution or else liquidation will begin, Debtwire reported.

In an email to Business Insider, Reshmi Basu, restructuring editor at Debtwire, wrote that without a stalking horse offer - a reserve bid from a definitive buyer, arranged before a bankruptcy auction in order to maximize the value of the assets and prevent low bids - the future of Barneys looks bleak.

"The noose is tightening around Barneys' neck, especially as vendors become wary of shipping, given its cash burn," Basu wrote. "The question for creditors is whether Barneys is worth more alive or dead. And for some, a liquidation may be the only path towards a recovery."Brad Sandler of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones - a member of the unsecured creditors committee - told the judge "the situation is somewhat fluid right now" and that the group will reach out within the next week if any possible issues arise, according to Debtwire.

"We are committed to working to find a going concern solution here," Sandler said. "Hopefully that will happen."