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Claiborne Quits Creditor Panel At Macy’s, Denies it Plans to Sell $20 Million Claim

NEW YORK -- Liz Claiborne Inc., which co-chairs the R.H. Macy & Co. unsecured creditors' committee, has resigned from the panel.<BR><BR>Jerome A. Chazen, chairman and chief executive officer of Claiborne, confirmed the resignation Wednesday but...

NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne Inc., which co-chairs the R.H. Macy & Co. unsecured creditors’ committee, has resigned from the panel.

Jerome A. Chazen, chairman and chief executive officer of Claiborne, confirmed the resignation Wednesday but declined to say why and denied reports that the company plans to sell the $20 million-plus claim to an unidentified party.

The purchase price is in the “mid-30 cents-on-the-dollar range,” according to one source close to the situation.

Creditors can no longer sit on a committee once they have sold their claims. Organized as a 13-member committee, the panel will be down to 11 after Claiborne leaves. R.R. Donnelly Co., a printing company, resigned last year after selling its claim. The committee is not obligated to replace a member who resigns.

In addition, CIT Group, another committee member, has agreed to unload its $2 million claim for somewhere in the mid-30-cents-on-the-dollar area. The purchaser of the claims is not yet known.

“It’s not a lack of faith in Macy’s,” said the source, “It’s just opportunistic.”

He noted that since Federated Department Stores’ entry into the Macy’s Chapter 11 case, the asking price for Macy’s trade claims has risen from the low 20s. Sources said Federated’s presence in a Macy’s reorganization could increase the bankrupt company’s value.

As reported, Federated said on Jan. 2 that it had acquired half of Prudential Insurance Co.’s secured claim against Macy’s, worth over $1 billion. Federated said it wants to merge with Macy’s, but Macy’s so far is not interested.

The trading of claims has become a $10 billion market over the last five years, with investors offering to buy at a discount, in hopes of profit or acquiring a stake in the debtor.