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Men's Wearhouse, Jos. Bank signal they're talking

NEW YORK (AP) -- Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. are moving a bit closer to a possible combination, announcing they are exchanging certain confidential information with each other.

Men's Wearhouse Inc. said Monday that it's also received a draft merger agreement from Jos. A. Bank.

The news comes four days after Jos. A. Bank, based in Hampstead, Md., rejected the latest acquisition bid of $1.78 billion from Men's Wearhouse. The offer of $63.50 per share was increased from Men's Wearhouse's prior bid of $57.50 per share. The Houston company has said it may raise the bid to $65 per share, if some conditions are met.

While Jos. A. Bank nixed the $63.50 per share offer, it did say on Thursday that it was willing to meet with Men's Wearhouse to discuss the higher bid.

Men's Wearhouse's $63.50 per share offer is set to expire on March 12, unless extended.

The back-and-forth between Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank started in October, when Jos. A. Bank offered to buy its larger rival for $2.3 billion. Men's Wearhouse scoffed at that offer, and turned the tables, offering to buy its rival for $1.54 billion. But after Jos. A Bank turned down that overture, Men's Wearhouse increased its bid to $1.6 billion, and then again to $1.78 billion.

Shares of Jos. A. Bank rose 42 cents to $62.50 in premarket trading. Men's Wearhouse's stock was unchanged.

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