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Takeover Talk Prompts Penney Response

Plano, Texas — Former JCPenney executive Vanessa Castagna landed at Cerberus Capital Management last week — a move that sparked reports the fund management company is seeking to acquire her former employer.

The speculation was sufficiently heated enough to prompt a statement from Penney Chairman and CEO Myron (Mike) Ullman, who was hired for the job Castagna had wanted.

“We have developed a long-range plan that will be discussed with investors at our Analyst Meeting on April 19 and 20,” he stated. “We believe that this long-range plan lays out a strong set of goals and strategies for taking JCPenney to a leadership position in the retail industry and will deliver value to our investors.”

Officially, the JCP release added, the company does not comment on rumors.

Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. and its affiliated entities manage funds and accounts with capital in excess of $12 billion. It was part of a consortium of investment firms that last year acquired Mervyn's for $1.65 billion. The other investors were Sun Capital Partners and Lubert-Adler/Klaff and Partners. Last year, it also acquired Guilford Mills, manufacturer of engineered fabrics for automotive, technical and apparel applications.

Castagna will become chairwoman of Mervyn's effective April 4, according to Richard Auletta, Cerberus' spokesman.

He told HTT the firm would not comment on the speculation surrounding a JCP takeover.

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