Clothing designer and marketer Jones Apparel Group Inc has proposed to buy footwear group Maxwell Shoe Company Inc for about $300 million in stock.

According to Jones Apparel CEO Peter Boneparth, the offer represented the "continuation of a cooperative dialogue" between the two companies beginning in fourth quarter 2003.

"Maxwell's portfolio of footwear brands, which includes AK Anne Klein, targets price points from moderate through bridge categories, and provides a perfect complement to our existing footwear business," he said.

"We also believe there are many strategic benefits to consolidating our AK Anne Klein apparel business with Maxwell's AK Anne Klein footwear business.

"In addition, this transaction would further broaden our footwear brand portfolio and leverage the infrastructure of our footwear business, creating compelling long-term strategic and financial benefits for our shareholders."

A letter outlining Jones Apparel's proposal was delivered to Maxwell Shoe Company CEO Mark Cocozza earlier today.