Woodies says it has received several offers for a buyout


Woodward & Lothrop Inc., the Alexandria, Va.-based department store chain in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, said yesterday it has received "several" offers to buy all or parts of its operation.

Woodies officials declined to identify the bidders. But industry sources said that Federated Department Stores Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. are among the parties that have been looking over Woodies' operation.

Both Penney and Federated have declined to comment about Woodies. But Federated has said it is interested in acquiring regional operators and adding them to its nationwide net of Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Burdines and other department stores. It is believed that Federated would convert most of the Woodies stores in Baltimore and Washington into Macy outlets.

Managers of Woodies say creditors will be best served if the chain remains independent. But the company is considering outside offers to compare with its own reorganization plan. Yesterday was the deadline for bids.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents Woodies workers and which had said it might try to craft its own buyout plan, is not among the bidders, knowledgeable sources said.

"I don't think they have a financing structure to make a competitive bid," said Wilbur Ross of Rothschild Inc., which represents a Woodies' creditors' committee. As for the other offers, he said, "I think we'll have a busy weekend trying to evaluate them."

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