Byline: Rich Wilner

NEW YORK — A federal judge in Rochester, N.Y., has placed the May Co.’s purchase of four McCurdy’s stores in that area on hold for at least two weeks until he can hold hearings on the antitrust implications of the deal.
Judge David G. Larimer, citing the “hotly contested issues” surrounding the expansion of May’s Kaufmann’s division in the area, said the hearings would seek to determine the exact “relevant product market” — that is, the geographic and product market.
As reported, State Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell brought suit to block the May-McCurdy’s deal on antitrust grounds, claiming May’s Kaufmann’s division would increase its share of the Rochester market to more than 48 percent from 28.2 percent if the purchase were allowed.
The Bon-Ton, which became a Kaufmann’s competitor in nearby Buffalo and Syracuse through the recent purchase of Adam, Meldrum & Anderson and C.E. Chappell & Sons, is also fighting the deal.
May, in fighting to preserve the deal, claims in court papers that the geographic territory affected is much broader than Rochester and that shoppers have a broader array of retailers than simply department stores.
May reported in July that it planned to buy eight of McCurdy’s 12 stores and merge three into its Kaufmann’s division. The five others would be sold.
However, Larimer has ordered May to maintain the four McCurdy’s mall stores in case Koppell succeeds in his suit. The four other locations have already been sold.
Of the four McCurdy’s stores affected by Larimer’s order, three are in malls where May already operates a Kaufmann’s. In the Irondequoit and Marketplace Malls, May plans to switch the McCurdy’s stores to Kaufmann’s and maintain a dual presence.
In the Mall at Greece Ridge Center, May intends to transfer the Kaufmann’s to the mall’s owner, switch McCurdy’s to Kaufmann’s and open a new Lord & Taylor, according to court papers.
The fourth McCurdy’s, in the Eastview Mall, would also be transferred to the same mall owner, Wilmorite Co.
Larimer, who in his eight-page decision and order, issued late Monday, said he has been “carpet bombed” with hundreds of pages of documents and 42 affidavits, ordered all parties to choose a hearing date during a telephone conference call set for Thursday.
— Fairchild News Service

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