Former CEO Is Rumored to Be Eying Fingerhut

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Ted Deikel's involvement with Fingerhut may not have ended in 1999.

"I'm going to seriously look at Fingerhut and see if there's something I can bring to the party with my background," the company's former CEO told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, which also reported that he has not made a formal offer to buy the Minnetonka, MN-based cataloger. "If there is any possibility of my putting something together, then I should do it."

It was reported that union officials, former Fingerhut board members, politicians and employees have been among those contacting Deikel to learn if he could do something to save the company, as well as the fact that he resigned his leadership position with the Medica health plan to pursue the purchase.

"I've been contacted by just about every elected official in the state," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "I don't know if I can be successful. But I'll be damned if I'm not going to try."

Deikel led the cataloger from 1974 to 1984 and from 1990 to 1999.

Tom Petters, who is also looking at the possibility of a purchase, could become part of a purchase effort. Deikel has been a business partner of Petters.

"He is talking to Deikel about Fingerhut," said Mary Pernula, who is Petters' spokeswoman.

Deikel reportedly became chairman of Medica in August at the request of Minnesota attorney general Mike Hatch after Hatch learned that the company spent millions on consultant fees and executive perks. Deikel eliminated $30 million in overhead as well as about 230 workers.

Also, Carol Sanger, vice president of corporate affairs at parent company Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati, provided no specifics regarding when a decision will be made regarding the bid submitted last week.

"It will take as long as it takes," she said. "There are a number of people who indicated that they are interested. We are going to wait and see if those who have said they are interested are going to make an offer. We're not going to be rushing this process. We had said on Friday that there had been one bid. Any offers that are made will be thoroughly reviewed and we will be involved in rather intense conversations, negotiations, with any party that submits an offer. When there is something to announce one way or another, we will do it."

It has also been reported that a union delegation was told Monday by Federated that Fingerhut catalogs would be published again in the event that there is a viable buyer.


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