FTD MERGER QUESTIONED

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Controversy is blooming over the proposed merger between Perry Capital Corp. and Florists' Transworld Delivery Association, Southfield, Mich.

Some FTD member florists strongly oppose the board's decision to accept the merger offer from New York-based Perry and are lobbying others to vote against it.

Opponents are concerned the merger would give Richard Perry's New York-based banking company too much control over some of the association's most valuable assets, like the FTD logo and the group's 800-number, and might increase competition for small retail florists.

George Sampson, an opponent of the $150 million merger and a former FTD board member who operates two New York floral shops, said, "We now own it [the logo], but Mr. Perry could put it in every greeting card store in America ... We want to be able to control how it is used ... and what products it can be put on."

However, Jim Jordan, group director, member services for FTD, said membership "will serve as the policeman [for the logo]." Some retail florists "look at FTD to protect them from competition and might not see the big picture."

The 19,700 members are to vote by Nov. 7 whether to accept the proposal to convert the non-profit cooperative into a for-profit company and an association.

The FTD board hopes the merger will provide needed extra capital and marketing power to compete in the changing $12.4 billion floral industry (AA, Sept. 26).

Robert Sherefkin of Crain's Detroit Business contributed to this story.

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