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Men's Wearhouse gets FTC nod to sew up Jos. A. Bank deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. antitrust officials on Friday gave the green light for the proposed merger of Men's Wearhouse Inc and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc to move ahead, citing ample competition in the market for men's suits and tuxedo rentals.

The Federal Trade Commission wrote to the firms on Friday saying an investigation into the merger had been closed, and FTC officials said in a blog post that the tie-up was not likely to harm consumers.

Unlike certain other big retail mergers, the decision "rested primarily on the competitive environment among brick-and-mortar stores, not competition from online sales," said Deborah Feinstein, Alexis Gilman, and Melissa Davenport, all of the FTC's Bureau of Competition.

"Buying a suit online does not seem obvious to most people, and online suit vendors generally cannot offer tailoring services," the trio noted.

Men's Wearhouse said in March it would acquire its rival for about $1.8 billion, ending a five-month saga that started with Jos. A. Bank offering to buy its larger menswear rival.

The companies, operating in a mature market, have bid and counterbid for each other since October when Jos. A. Bank offered to buy Men's Wearhouse for about $2.3 billion.

The merging firms have different customer bases, the FTC officials said, from Men's Wearhouse's "younger, trendier customer set" to Jos. A. Bank's older, more traditional buyers.

And in the tuxedo segment, the two firms compete with numerous local and regional rental firms, the FTC officials noted.

In afternoon trading Men's Wearhouse was up 4.2 percent at $50.30 per share and Jos. A. Bank was up 1.3 percent at $64.96.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny and Diane Bartz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alden Bentley)

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