Hudson’s Bay Co investor Ortelius Advisors LP said it will vote against the Saks Fifth Avenue owner’s C$1.9 billion ($1.4 billion) take-private deal because of what the hedge fund views as lapses in the sales process.
Ortelius joins a number of investors who say the sale of the company to its Executive Chairman Richard Baker and a group of Hudson’s Bay shareholders with total voting control of 57 per cent over the retailer is not generous enough.
Canadian buyout firm Catalyst Capital Group Inc and hedge fund Land & Buildings have said they oppose the deal, which will go up for a vote by minority shareholders on Dec. 17.
A Hudson’s Bay special board committee that negotiated the sale to Baker’s consortium rejected a separate C$2.03 billion offer for the company from Catalyst Capital Group Inc last week on the basis that the consortium made it clear that it would not support a sale to another party.
The take-private must win support from a majority of the minority shareholders. Catalyst owns roughly 17.5 per cent of Hudson’s Bay, and Ortelius, which sued Hudson’s Bay last week for oppressing its share price, holds roughly 0.5 per cent of the company’s stock.
Ortelius said that the special committee’s decision to make near-simultaneous announcements of a real estate deal and Baker’s take-private earlier this year hurt the company’s share price. The move helped make Baker’s offer look better, according to a statement from Ortelius.
“We contend that Mr. Baker knew that coupling these transactions would impose an artificial ceiling on the stock price,” said Peter DeSorcy, Ortelius’ managing member. “It is incredulous that the special committee could reasonably determine that near simultaneous announcements would maximize shareholder value for minority investors.”
Representatives for Baker and the investors backing his bid and the special committee of the company did not immediately respond for comment.
The special committee said in a statement on Monday that Baker and other directors on Hudson’s Bay’s board involved in his bid recused themselves from approving the real estate transaction earlier this year.
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