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SECOND TIME AROUND: Dickson Poon has put the finishing touches on his second, alternative bid for Harvey Nichols and sent it to shareholders for a vote, a spokesman for the store said Thursday. As reported Tuesday, his first bid of $3.85 a share for 100 percent of the firm failed at a shareholders meeting, due chiefly to the resistance of Deutsche Bank, the store’s largest institutional shareholder. Under the new bid, Poon is still offering $3.85 a share, but this time he only needs approval from shareholders representing 50 percent — rather than 75 percent — of the stock held by the public. Shareholders have to respond by mail by 3 p.m. Dec. 4. Poon currently owns 50.1 percent of Harvey Nichols and wants to buy as much of the remaining 49.9 percent as he can so he can delist the company. Deutsche Bank wants to hold on to its shares and ensure the company remains listed on the stock exchange.

This story first appeared in the November 15, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

VOYAGE OF VALUE: The Boston satellite office of Value City Department Stores Inc.’s merchandising group is being closed. James McGrady, VC’s chief financial officer, said the Boston office’s functions will be relocated to New York, where the firm is “pretty close” to choosing a site. The move doesn’t affect VC’s existing Boston-based Filene’s Basement merchandising team, but will affect about 20 employees. VC’s merchandising group has offices in Columbus, Ohio, where the discounter has its headquarters, and Los Angeles.

FREE TRADE DOWN UNDER: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has notified Congressional leaders that he plans to begin negotiations on a free-trade agreement with Australia in 90 days. Zoellick, who was in Canberra, Australia, this week, said in a letter to lawmakers that agriculture issues will be a top priority in the context of negotiations.