Indian businessman holds key to Obama’s suits

June 6th, 2009 - 6:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, June 6 (IANS) US President Barack Obama’s hopes of continuing to wear exclusive suits stitched by his favourite Chicago tailors rest on the business skills of a London-based Indian entrepreneur.

Ajay Khaitan, a turnaround expert, has emerged as potential saviour for the men responsible for guaranteeing Obama’s sartorial elegance after the Chicago fashion company that supplies presidential suits went bankrupt.

Obama wore an elegant Hartmax tuxedo at his inauguration ball in January but the 137-year-old firm, specialising in men’s outfitting, went bankrupt just days after Obama became president.

Now, its 3,000 factory workers are lobbying creditors to accept a $128 million buyout offer by Emerisque Branks, a private equity firm run by Khaitan.

London-based Emerisque specialises in reviving troubled fashion labels, the Guardian reported Saturday.

Emerisque is credited with turning around the fortunes of the denim label Lee Cooper but a group of lenders led by Wells Fargo have said that its offer did not represent “adequate value”.

Now angry workers at Hartmax, the company that was chosen to dress the local boy who studied and worked in Chicago before going on to become president, are backing Khaitan’s takeover bid.

Workers at the Chicago factory have threatened to stage a sit-in unless banks agree to Emerisque’s bid, The Guardian reported.

Joe Costigan, a union spokesman, said: “Hartmax survived the Great Depression, it has survived every downturn and it can survive the current downturn if given the chance.

“This is a company which makes some of the finest quality suits. It’s a company which makes suits for the president of the United States. Our jobs are worth fighting for,” he said.

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