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Top Men's Wearhouse investor demands negotiations

Men's Wearhouse disclosed Thursday that its largest shareholder has demanded the company negotiate with Jos. A. Bank Clothiers over the Hampstead-based retailer's acquisition offer.

New York hedge fund Eminence Capital, which owns 9.8 percent of Men's Wearhouse stock, said in a letter Thursday that it wants the company to "immediately" start talks with Bank and consider alternatives, such as soliciting other bids.

"We intend to exercise our rights as shareholders to hold you accountable if you fail to take these actions by close of business on November 11th," wrote Ricky C. Sandler, Eminence Capital's chief executive.

The Houston-based Men's Wearhouse rejected as too low its competitor's $2.3 billion offer in October. When Bank asked to view nonpublic information in order to determine whether to offer more, the company refused.

"We're enthusiastic about Men's Wearhouse's prospects and are committed to acting in the best interests of all shareholders," the company said in a statement about the letter.

Sandler wrote that he agreed the acquisition offer undervalued the company, but Bank "explicitly stated its willingness to increase its offer subject to due diligence." Bank said this week that its proposal would remain open until Nov. 14.

Bank's stock closed at $48.31 a share, up 81 cents. Men's Wearhouse stock jumped $3 a share, closing at $45.43.

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