Fingerhut Bidder Stays Under Wraps

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The source of the bid reportedly submitted Friday for Fingerhut Companies Inc. remained unnamed yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Tom Petters -- who counts Redtag Inc., Eden Prairie, MN, as one of his businesses and who leads a group of investors interested in a possible acquisition -- said yesterday that he has not made an offer to Federated Department Stores.

"Mr. Petters' group has not put in a bid at this point," said his spokeswoman, Mary Pernula. "He is still interested and is reviewing the possibility of acquiring the company. Mr. Petters has signed a confidentiality agreement with Federated and cannot comment on anything."

Pernula would not comment on any involvement of former Fingerhut CEO Ted Deikel in Petters' investment group.

"[Mr. Petters] has not disclosed who, or how many, are in his group," she said. "He is not commenting on that. We've signed a confidentiality agreement."

A press report stated that Federated vice president of corporate affairs Carol Sanger refused to disclose the source of the offer or financial terms and that the offer was being reviewed. Sanger did not return a call for comment.

Another local group looking at a possible acquisition is the Business Development Group, Wayzata, MN, led by Peter Lytle, who has also signed a confidentiality agreement.

Federated, Cincinnati, has said that an investment group led by Paul Ellarby of Minneapolis was no longer interested in acquiring Fingerhut following a review of financial information.

A report placed Fingerhut's sales at $1.24 billion during the 52-week fiscal year ended Feb. 2, down 30 percent from $1.77 billion for the 53-week fiscal year ended Feb. 3, 2001. Federated's total sales fell 8.2 percent in its recently completed fiscal year to $16.8 billion.

Fingerhut spokesman Ben Saukko did not provide any information on when a decision will be made on the bid.

"At least 12 interested parties have signed confidentiality agreements with Federated," he said.

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