T-shirt company Gildan Activewear Inc was reported to have teamed up with US holding company Texas Pacific Group Inc to bid for Fruit of the Loom Ltd, the 130-year-old Chicago-based apparel group in bankruptcy protection since late 1999, the Financial Post reported.

But Laurence Sellyn, Gildan's chief financial officer, refused to comment on the report. In June, analysts said it would be logical for Gildan to bid, since success would eliminate a big competitor.

According to the report, Fruit of the Loom, which has been cutting costs and narrowing losses, was approached by Russell Corp with Blackstone Group, the investment bankers, Gildan with TPG, and Bain Capital Inc with VF Corp.

"Consolidation continues in the apparel industry and as Fruit of the Loom repairs its operations, it could become an attractive takeover target," said Standard & Poor's analyst David Shapiro.

Earlier in the year, Fruit of the Loom alleged in a lawsuit that Gildan obtained and illegally used the US firm's confidential trade secrets, but the suit was later stayed by mutual agreement.