Fingerhut Resumes Work on Some Catalog Projects

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This week brought more encouraging news regarding cataloger Fingerhut's fight for survival.

Fingerhut spokesman Ben Saukko said the company has taken steps toward the completion of some catalog projects that were previously on hold. The projects were postponed following the January announcement that parent company Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati, would close the operation unless a buyer could be found.

Peter Lytle-led Business Development Group, Wayzata, MN, through its investment subsidiary, Business Development Group Acquisitions Inc., signed a nonbinding letter of intent last month with Federated that may lead to the purchase of Fingerhut. BDG is a turnaround and investment firm.

"While this is a positive sign, it's very important to remember that the letter of intent is nonbinding, and this is in no way an indication that an agreement has been reached or a deal is closed," Saukko said.

The spokesman also said he did not think that the letter of intent included a provision that mandated the steps that are being taken.

Saukko would not say when the decision was made to resume the projects and would not discuss circulation, drop dates, page counts or other plans for future catalogs.

"It's a situation where we've had people off and on paid leave over the last month," he said. "It's not a situation where everyone left on a certain date and came back on a certain date. People have been out for variable time periods, depending on work loads and business needs."

He added that the work is taking place "in several facilities and different areas that contribute to the catalogs."

The last Fingerhut catalog mailed at the end of January.

"We're taking preliminary steps toward the completion of some of these catalog projects with the expectation that they may go out," he said.

Also in the mix is former Fingerhut CEO Ted Deikel and Tom Petters, who have put forth an offer. Federated has said that the sale process remains open. The Deikel-Petters offer was set to expire March 8.

An unnamed Fingerhut source stated that, "The future is uncertain [and] we don't know if it will go out, but we want to take steps so we are prepared in the event of good news."

BDG senior partner Marshall Masko would not comment when asked about the timing of any announcement or the status of any financing package.

" 'No comment' is our standard party line at this point," Masko said. "The [confidentiality agreement is] tighter than any other deal we've done before."

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