NEW YORK -- It's official. Federated Department Stores completed its merger with R.H. Macy & Co. Monday to become -- with 347 stores and more than $13.5 billion in sales -- the largest department store chain in the country. With the merger, it also announced a new $2.8 billion bank credit facility.

A few strokes of the pen at Federated's Cincinnati headquarters ended Macy's nearly three-year battle for independence, a battle that for all purposes ended when the two companies shook hands on a merger deal on July 14. Federated began pursuing Macy's at the start of this year.

The battle between the retail titans was marked by a heated contest for creditors' alliances. All that, however, was history Monday. Allen Questrom, Federated's chairman and chief executive officer, said the merger will create not only a larger but a "more efficient and synergistic retail operation."

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