Byline: Rich Wilner

NEW YORK--Federated Department Stores, Inc. and the New York attorney general have entered into "active negotiations" to resolve the state's antitrust concerns surrounding the Federated/R.H. Macy & Co. megamerger.
Federated and G. Oliver Koppell met last Friday in the first face-to-face meeting since Koppell surprised the retail world Aug. 16 by demanding that Federated sell Macy's Herald Square Flagship and all 11 other downstate stores. Koppell said that the Federated/Macy merger would create "a virtual monopoly" in the New York retail community.
As expected, Federated is taking a hard stance to retain most or all of the Macy's stores--especially the 1.2 million-square-foot Herald Square landmark, according to a source close to Federated.
"There's not a snowball's chance in hell that Federated will agree to sell the Herald Square store," the source said.
Neither Koppell nor Federated would comment on the substance of Friday's meeting nor predict how long the negotiations might last.
"The meeting was cordial and some progress was made toward alleviating the attorney general's concern," a spokeswoman for Federated said Monday.
A spokesman for Koppell would not comment Monday beyond confirming that "active negotiations" had started.
Koppell had demanded an answer from Federated by Aug. 30 on his insistence that the retailer sell the 12 Macy's stores. Federated said Monday it planned no formal response and that Friday's meeting was, in fact, its response.
Koppell said during his Aug. 23 press conference that if the issue were not resolved in negotiations, he would file a lawsuit and take his antitrust argument before a judge.
"The last thing Federated wants is a lawsuit and have to have a judge decide the fate of Macy's stores in New York," said a Federated source.
--Fairchild News Service

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