SPITZER SETTLEMENTS:New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on Tuesday said his office had reached a settlement with Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores, as well as with two tableware vendors, Lenox Inc. and Waterford Wedgwood, in connection with an investigation over allegations that the companies conspired to limit the distribution of certain products to consumers. Federated said in a statement that it settled “in order to avoid the potential of a protracted court action and the unnecessary distraction to its business that could result from such action.” A May spokeswoman said the “suit was settled to both parties’ satisfaction.” Under the terms of the agreement, Federated will pay civil penalties of $900,000 and May will pay $800,000; Lenox and Waterford will pay $700,000 and $500,000, respectively. None of the companies has admitted to any wrongdoing. Spitzer’s office said the companies had attempted to prevent Bed, Bath & Beyond from expanding into the “lucrative tableware market.”

ON THE RUN: Summer break-ins and burglaries in Italy are nothing new as cities empty and locals head to the beach for weeks. But this summer’s first high-profile heist wasn’t a classic case of breaking and entering. On Friday afternoon, a man strode into a crowded Bulgari store in the ritzy Sardinian coastal town of Porto Cervo, asked a salesperson to see a necklace and a ring up close, grabbed the baubles, worth some 2 million euros, or $2.5 million, and dashed out the door, according to Olbia police captain Gaspare Giardelli. Giardelli said police are still investigating, but he’s optimistic after recent arrests for similar crimes. Few details on the suspect are known, other than that he was well dressed and isn’t Italian — in other words, a convincing potential customer. “He didn’t seem particularly suspicious,” Giardelli said. Bulgari officials could not be reached for comment.

MYNERS MULLS OVER M&S: While the search for a permanent chairman continues, Marks & Spencer plc has said that, for now, Paul Myners is for keeps. He has agreed to remain in the role of temporary chairman, possibly staying on until the retailer’s annual general meeting in July 2005. Myners replaced Luc Vandevelde in June and was a driving force in the company’s successful defense against a 10 billion pound, or $16.92 billion, bid by Philip Green. “The board believes Paul has done an extremely good job during a difficult period, and that the company now needs a period of stability in order to focus on the day-to-day running of the business,” said Kevin Lomax, the company’s senior independent director, in a statement Wednesday. Formerly a non-executive director at Marks & Spencer, Myners is also non-executive chairman of the Guardian Media Group and a non-executive director of the Bank of New York.

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