NEW YORK -- It's getting close to crunch time for the bankrupt R.H. Macy & Co.
At 2 p.m. today, a hearing starts on Macy's request for an extension of the March 15 deadline for proposing a reorganization plan.
Meanwhile, Myron E. Ullman, Macy's chairman and chief executive officer, on a trip to California last week, may well have been further pursuing his efforts to gain funding to squelch the takeover ambitions of Federated Department Stores.
Macy's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 1992 and has already been granted extensions on its exclusive right to issue a plan. The Bankruptcy Code requires a plan within 120 days of the filing of a Chapter 11 petition.
Normally, these hearings on extensions are routine matters. This hearing, however, before Chief Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland, could be different. Even the length of the hearing defies speculation: It could last an hour, or it could go on for several days.
The question of exclusivity has become crucial since Federated Department Stores entered the proceedings with the purchase of half of The Prudential's $1 billion secured claim against Macy's and made it clear that it wants to merge with Macy's.
Lawyers for creditor groups are expected to testify. It's also possible that Ullman will testify.
As long as Macy's has exclusivity, Federated is barred from filing a plan. Therefore, it is in Federated's interest to keep the extension short.
Federated has been busy courting other creditors, touting its strength in retailing and seeking their support. Macy's wants to remain independent.
Macy's reportedly has been seeking financial support for its efforts from General Electric Capital Corp., a large Macy's shareholder and the operator of the lucrative Macy's credit card business.
Last week, Ullman was on the West Coast. He attended I. Magnin's Valentine Ball in San Francisco, then flew to Los Angeles to meet with Aaron Clark of L.A.C.L.A. Investments, it was learned.
Clark is an advisor to Louis Paige, a Macy's board member and executive vice president of the Shaw Group, a Macy's investor. The Shaw Group is controlled by Run Run Shaw, a movie producer in Hong Kong.
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