NEW YORK -- Just four days before competing proposals for the future of R.H. Macy & Co. and its creditors are submitted to mediator Cyrus R. Vance, the bondholders' committee said it would "vigorously oppose" any plan that values Macy's at less than $4 billion.

The valuation of Macy's has become the key issue in its reorganization. Secured creditors have pushed for a lower valuation, which would increase their stake in the chain. Unsecured creditors also have lobbied for a higher price tag, which would increase their payout.

The bondholders' committee, which represents the interests of $1.3 billion in publicly held bonds, said its financial advisor, Houlihan, Lokey, Howard & Zukin, has placed a value on Macy's "in excess of $4 billion."

Comments from the bondholders' committee were made with Vance's consent, said committee counsel Robert Miller of Berlack, Israels & Liberman.

Arthur Steinberg of Kaye, Scholar, Fierman, Hayes & Handler, counsel to the 49 Store Bank Syndicate, a group of secured creditors, disagreed with the $4 billion valuation.

"We don't think [Macy's] is worth $4 billion and believe it is worth significantly less than the bondholders think it's worth," he said.

On Friday, Federated Department Stores is expected to submit to Vance its plan for Macy's and begin to discuss the proposal with creditors. Macy's, which earlier valued its business at $3.6 billion, is expected to submit a revised proposal at the same time.

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