Deikel Makes Bid; Fingerhut Nears End

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As Fingerhut took additional steps last week toward closing its operations, former Fingerhut CEO Ted Deikel and wholesaler Tom Petters submitted a bid for certain undisclosed assets of Fingerhut to parent company Federated Department Stores Inc., Cincinnati.

While Petters declined to discuss details, The Star Tribune of Minneapolis said the bid would include integrating Fingerhut assets with some of their existing businesses, which include e-commerce and wholesaling.

"Petters and Deikel submitted an offer [Thursday night], but I can't discuss any of the details," said Petters spokeswoman Mary Pernula. "We would hope and expect that they review it right away."

Earlier last week, Deikel was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that purchasing any Fingerhut assets would be difficult given the time that had elapsed.

"We're now trying to figure out what we can do very quickly and rapidly without the normal process of due diligence," Deikel said. "We have to either figure out a solution or formula to restart the business or it won't happen."

Carol Sanger, Federated's vice president of Corporate Affairs,confirmed that it received a bid from Deikel and Petters for certain assets of Fingerhut and is in the process of reviewing it.

Meanwhile, the cataloger has sent letters to liquidators asking for bids on its assets and accepted its final catalog and Internet orders May 16. It also has suspended the rental of its customer file pending the sale of its assets.

Letters reportedly were sent May 10 to more than 40 liquidation companies and asset resellers with May 22 given as the deadline for bids. The letter called for two bids - one for an estimated $55 million to $65 million of merchandise, and the other for the equipment and fixtures at Fingerhut facilities. It also has suspended the rental of its customer file pending the sale of its assets.

Fingerhut spokesman Ben Saukko said the cataloger plans to process returns through mid-July. The company's Piney Flats, TN, distribution center will close in "mid- to late summer" followed by the St. Cloud, MN, center "in late summer or early fall."

"Shipments will be made for approximately one additional week beyond May 16," he said. "The last day of returns processing will be sometime in mid-July."

Saukko said the company expects to retain 850 employees through the end of September and 350 through the end of January.


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