Barneys Bidding War Continues!

Jones Apparel Group announced this morning that it has signed a new deal to unload iconic high-end Manhattan retailer Barneys New York to the Dubai investment firm Istithmar for $942.3 million in cash.

The sum is actually slightly less than a reported $950 million offer from rival firm, Fast Retailing of Japan, owners of popular casual clothing line Uniqlo; though selling to Fast would also carry a hefty termination fee of more than $20 million.

But! Not so Fast!

The Japanese outfit still has until 5 p.m. on Thursday to make one last offer.

Fast Retailing has twice trumped offers by Istithmar, which initially agreed to acquire Barneys for $825 million.

On Friday, Istithmar stepped up to match Fast Retailing’s surprise counter offer of $900 million, only to see its Japanese rival promptly raise the stakes by another $50 million two days later.

Current Barneys owner Jones Apparel Group – looking to more than double its own investment of nearly $400 million, regardless of the outcome – then granted Istithmar just 48 hours to come back with a proposal “at least as favorable to Jones as the amended Fast Retailing offer.”

With barely 10 hours to go on Tuesday, Istithmar CEO David Jackson wasn’t divulging anything about his intentions. “No comment,” he told The Observer via email at 1:48 p.m.

At Barneys’ flagship store on Madison Avenue yesterday, employees awaited the outcome with standard drone-worker apathy.

“It doesn’t really matter, either way,” said one salesman in the personal furnishings department. “It’s just another company coming to take over, that’s all. I don’t think either one’s gonna have much effect. For Jones, I think, the smart thing to do is to take the higher offer–$50 million more. That’s a lot of money.” Barneys Bidding War Continues!