RICHEMONT APPOINTMENT: In an executive shuffle at Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG, Thomas Van der Kallen was promoted to president of the luxury conglomerate’s watch division in North America. The newly organized division comprises seven watch brands: Jaeger Le Coultre, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, IWC, Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange Sohne and Officine Panerai. Van der Kallen, who will report to Richemont’s Geneva-based watch division headquarters, had been vice president of marketing and sales for the Baume & Mercier brand. Edward Wright, Vancouver-based West Coast sales director for Baume & Mercier, succeeds him in that post. Wright was responsible for introducing Baume & Mercier to Canada in the Nineties. He will relocate to the New York region. Rudy Chavez, East Coast sales director for Baume & Mercier, has been promoted to vice president of sales. He joined the firm in 1998 as regional sales manager for the New York region.
DOUBLE-DEBT DOWNSLOPE: Fitch adjusted its outlook to negative for Federated Department Stores Inc.’s senior unsecured notes currently rated BBB+. The move reflects concerns about the retail environment and losses associated with its Fingerhut division, slated to be phased out. Elsewhere in the credit world, Moody’s Investor Service downgraded Unifi Inc.’s senior unsecured debt to Ba2, citing top- and bottom-line declines in its core fiber business.
PENNEY’S STATEMENT: J.C. Penney Co. issued a statement Friday saying rumors circulating in the market were “unfounded and without merit” and that it was “unaware of any investigation of unannounced litigation.” The statement came after talk in financial circles over alleged Medicare fraud at the company’s Eckerd drugstore chain. The company’s stock closed down more than 3 cents to $23.70 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, after registering a more than 8 percent drop on Thursday.
PROMOTIONS AT HACHETTE: John O’ Connor, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Hachette Filipacchi Media USA Inc., has been promoted to executive vice president and cfo. In addition, Catherine Flickinger, senior vice president and general counsel, was named executive vice president and general counsel. O’Connor will now oversee the circulation department, led by Dave Leckey, vice president of circulation, and will continue to oversee strategic planning, financial reporting, business services, accounting, payroll, information systems and administration/facilities operations. Flickinger will now oversee the human resources department, headed by Michele Daly, vice president of human resources, and will continue to oversee the law department.