Macy's desperate for cash to pay creditors after poor holiday sales

January 14, 1992|By Rosemary Metzler Lavan | Rosemary Metzler Lavan,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- R. H. Macy & Co. continued its search for cash yesterday as Wall Street speculated that the struggling retailer must sell assets or an equity stake quickly to stave off a bankruptcy filing.

The beleaguered 133-year-old retailer owes about $3.7 billion to its bankers, bondholders, suppliers and other creditors. Macy's lost $155 million for the quarter that ended Nov. 2, and Christmas sales were lackluster.

And the company must make several interest and debt payments over the next few months.

"The betting on Seventh Avenue is 50-50 Macy's will fall into bankruptcy," said Alan Millstein, editor of Fashion Network Report, a New York-based monthly trade newsletter.

"But [Macy Chairman Edward] Finkelstein has proven to be very nimble when it comes to pulling investor rabbits out of his hat," Mr. Millstein said.

Macy's operates four stores in the Baltimore area -- at the White Marsh, Hunt Valley, Owings Mills and Marley Station malls. The company also has an I. Magnin store at White Flint Mall in Kensington.

Michael Freitag of Macy's public relations firm, Kekst & Co., said: "Management has a game plan with multiple aspects to it. . . . It would be inappropriate" to comment.

Mr. Freitag said Macy's is working with investment bankers at Goldman Sachs. He denied that the company was close to bankruptcy.

Mr. Millstein said the sale of Macy's South, a string of 26 stores, most in Georgia, with estimated annual sales of $800 million, could yield the best results.

But other analysts, including Dillon Read's Evan Mann, said the sale of the upscale I. Magnin chain makes the most sense because the store does not fit into the Macy's mold.

Both Mr. Mann and Mr. Millstein expect the retailer to seek an equity investor. Mr. Mann thinks Macy's will start with the investors that pumped in money last year, including New York-based Loews Corp.

Mr. Millstein said suppliers "who were nervous" are now "nauseous" after the store said Friday that it would pay them two weeks late.

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