SEC Investigating Spiegel's Late Filings

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The Spiegel Group is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission because of late filings of financial reports, the company said yesterday.

Company spokeswoman Debbie Koopman said it "was a recent development -- within the last few weeks. We filed the 10K for 2001 [Tuesday] and we're moving forward toward filing the three 10Qs for 2002. We were in default on certain loan covenants and we were working with our bank group to restructure our loan agreements. We needed to do that to get an audit opinion. In filing our 10K, we filed our audit opinion with it that was done by KPMG."

Last month, the Downers Grove, IL, company reported its 2002 sales declined 18 percent to $2.28 billion from $2.78 billion in 2001. Sales dropped 11 percent at Eddie Bauer, 25 percent at Newport News and 29 percent at Spiegel Catalog.

The company's Class A common stock was delisted from Nasdaq last May. The shares are non-voting shares that Spiegel sold to the public in 1987. All of the company's voting shares are owned by Germany's Otto family, which runs the Otto Versand mail-order empire.

Last week, Spiegel laid off 300 employees at call centers in Bothell, WA, and Hampton, VA. Some of the layoffs were related to a slowdown in sales after the holidays and an increase in usage of the company's online shopping sites.


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