Rumors of a merger between Inland Retail Real Estate and Pan Pacific Retail Properties were greatly exaggerated. Though neither company would comment, an outside source indicates the deal is a no go....

Mills Corp. hired Mark Ettinger, a former Goldman Sachs exec, to fill the newly created position of president and help the REIT execute its $3 billion development pipeline and acquisition strategy. Citigroup Smith Barney analyst Jonathan Litt estimates Ettenger's compensation including roughly $1 million as a sign-on bonus, plus an annual salary in the $2 million range. "Having met with Ettenger, his 20 years of transactional experience at Goldman Sachs seems to be a nice complement to CEO Larry Siegel's leasing background," he adds. Ettenger will report directly to Siegel...

Federated Department Stores announced it will close five Rich's-Macy's and Lazarus-Macy's stores by May 2004 and incur a pre-tax charge of $15 million. The stores to be closed include a Rich's-Macy's in Birmingham, Ala.'s Century Plaza, and Atlanta's Cobb Center, as well as a Lazarus-Macy's in Westerville, Ohio; Oxford, Ohio; and Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh location is a downtown store that city officials had hoped would spur an urban renaissance...

Finally roused by the wake up call provided by the FAO Inc. and KB Toys bankruptcies, Toys R Us is likely considering a financial restructuring. The retailer is searching for a new CFO and JP Morgan analyst Danielle Fox expects it to conduct sale leaseback transactions on a majority of its U.S. stores. Store closings could also be on the horizon, but don't expect any action until the new CFO is hired, she says...

Home Depot management announced it plans to slow expansion, and focus on remodeling existing stores. The home improvement giant says it will open only 175 stores annually compared to its past rate of 200 per year. Around 50 percent of new stores will be located in new markets. In 2004, the retailer says it will double remodeling spending to $1 billion, entailing new lighting, a new floor finish, larger signage, self-checkout lines and checkout stands with touch screens and cordless scanning guns...

At the recent Prudential Equity Group retail conference, management from Limited Brands made it clear they'd done their homework on a possible sale of the company's Limited Stores division. Executives said it would cost the company about $150 million to close the chain's 338 stores, including recouping lease obligations at only the top malls. Prudential analyst Stacy Pak says Limited Brands will likely continue to wind down the store base as leases expire rather than shell out the money required to close the chain.