NEW YORK — As court-appointed mediator Cyrus R. Vance continued to meet with creditors of R.H. Macy & Co. Tuesday, it appeared that the plan proposed by the chain could be measured against two competing proposals — one from Federated Department Stores and possibly another from Fidelity Investments and the banks.

Vance is expected to give the groups instructions on how to proceed in the next week or two. Macy’s is expected to counter with a revised proposal by the end of the month.

A Macy’s board meeting is scheduled for Monday to update board members on developments and discuss strategy.

Meanwhile, an attorney for some of the secured creditors strongly disputed a suggestion that Macy’s should remain in Chapter 11 until spring 1995. Macy’s is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 in January.

As reported in a story on page 1, April 12, a source close to some Macy board members said that bondholders, unsecured creditors and possibly preferred shareholders would benefit if Macy’s remained in Chapter 11 through the Christmas season so that improving operations could swell the company’s net worth. Generally, secured creditors stand to benefit if Macy’s exits Chapter 11 quickly, while bondholders, unsecured creditors and preferred shareholders would prefer a longer Chapter 11 proceeding. Basically, there’s enough value in Macy’s now to pay off secured creditors.

However, under the plan proposed by Macy’s, bondholders and unsecured creditors would get little and preferred shareholders would get nothing.

The attorney for some secured creditors said Tuesday, “The goal of bankruptcy is not to keep a company in reorganization to increase its value, but to provide breathing room from creditors.” “Suppose the economy flops and the value goes down,” he said. “Life is not that clear and predictable. This is a Chapter 11 reorganization, not Atlantic City.” He said the extension idea was far-fetched. Macy’s had no comment. “I think Judge [Burton R.] Lifland has made himself clear that he wants Macy’s emerging from Chapter 11 by the end of the year or January 1995 at the latest,” the attorney said.

Any delay in Macy’s plan based on future improvements would be a gamble. Any improvement would have to outpace the costs of a delay, including added professional fees and added interest on the secured debt

“Besides, how do we know if Macy’s is going to improve results?” the attorney asked. “What’s the economy going to do the second half of the year? Does anyone know?”

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