Stock skyrockets after shareholder bid to take retailer private

Hudson Bay Company chairman Richard Baker
National Post

The group of shareholders, which includes HBC's executive chairman Richard Baker, has offered to purchase the company for $9.45 per share, a 48 per cent premium on Friday's closing price.

"Our all-cash proposal would provide HBC's public shareholders the ability to realize immediate and certain value for their shares at a substantial premium while transferring the risks and uncertainties facing HBC to the continuing shareholders".

Since Foulkes joined the company in February 2018, the retail group has sloughed off many of its less profitable businesses to focus on its top performer, Saks Fifth Avenue, and banner chain Hudson's Bay.

The Canada-based business has formed a special committee to review its take-private bid, with Baker and investors representing about 57% of the outstanding common shares of HBC. It also said last month that it was exploring "strategic alternatives" for its Lord & Taylor business, which could include a potential sale, joint venture or merger.

Proceeds from its Signa deal will be used to reduce Hudson's Bay's debt, making a take-private deal more easy to finance. However, that figure included the Lord & Taylor flagship store, which the company sold to WeWork and partner Rhône Capital for $850 million in October 2017, and a Vancouver property owned by the company's RioCan joint venture, since sold for $675 million.

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She admitted publicly in April, during the company's fourth-quarter conference call, that a shift to lower-priced merchandise across the Hudson's Bay chain of department stores had resulted in disappointing revenue. Toronto-Dominion Bank is in line to win that role, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Hudson's Bay, established in 1670, was taken over in 2008 by Baker's USA private equity firm NRDC Equity Partners, which already owned Lord & Taylor.

At the time of the Kaufhof announcement, Baker said it was part of a plan to make Saks Fifth Avenue and its Saks Off Fifth subsidiary into global brands.

It is unclear what the takeover means for the 15 Hudson's Bay stores in the Netherlands, which are known to be struggling, but some closures are likely.

Sears Chairman Edward Lampert also orchestrated deals to keep the retailer alive, before it filed for bankruptcy past year.

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