A CATO FAMILY AFFAIR: W.H. Cato Jr. Revocable Trust and Cato Family Investments, a limited partnership managed by Wayland Cato Jr., 79, a founder and chairman of Cato Corp., plans to sell up to 1 million shares of the firm’s Class A common stock, or approximately 19 percent of its holdings in the firm, through Banc of America Securities. The sale follows a similar divestiture of 1.2 million shares in December and relates to Cato’s estate planning. Excluding shares represented in the plan, the trust and limited partnership hold about 44 percent of the voting power of the firm’s common stock.BUSH — WE BUY FROM YOU, ARGENTINA: President George Bush, opting for trade instead of financial aid, last week granted trade benefits to Argentina, which is suffering its worst-ever economic crisis. The White House gave duty-free access to 57 types of imports from Argentina, including jewelry and leather products under the Generalized System of Preferences program, which does not include textiles or apparel. The U.S. said it might give duty-free privileges to additional products, including textiles, if it can settle a long-running dispute over Argentine patent laws on pharmaceuticals. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative plans to hold a hearing on Oct. 18. to consider granting additional duty-free treatment for 17 products from Argentina, the Philippines and Turkey. A decision on that is expected by Jan. 31, 2003.KMART EMPOWERMENT: A federal judge, on Thursday, granted Kmart Corp. the power to issue subpoenas in its investigation into whether its previous management’s practices and policies led to the firm’s Jan. 22 Chapter 11 filing, according to published reports. The Troy, Mich.-based firm and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission, have been examining the events leading up to the filing, the largest retail bankruptcy in U.S. history.HDP SAYS IN FILA TALKS WITH VF: The Italian conglomerate Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali, which has been trying to sell the Fila brand for over a year, said it is in now talks with VF Corp. about a deal, though a spokeswoman for the Greensboro, N.C.-based apparel maker declined to comment on HdP’s statement. An HdP spokeswoman said: "We are holding several negotiations and VF is one of the companies that has shown interest." She did not name any other interested parties, though in December the company had said it was in exclusive talks with Continental Partners, an investment group. Continental couldn’t be reached for comment.

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