Opposition is building to a $1-billion offer to take Hudson’s Bay Co. private.
U.S. hedge-fund firm Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC, an investor in HBC that has attacked the $9.45-a-share go-private bid as being too low, has bought up more shares of the retailer, said a source familiar with the situation.
Land & Buildings acquired some of the HBC shares that Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan sold at $9.45-a-share last week, said the source, who was granted anonymity by The Globe and Mail because the person was not authorized to speak publicly.
Toronto-based fund manager Catalyst Capital Group Inc. acquired another portion of Teachers’ 10-per-cent stake in HBC, The Globe reported this week. Between Catalyst and Land & Buildings, the two bought much of the stake that Teachers’ sold, the source said. Land & Buildings previously was believed to own about 3 per cent of HBC’s shares.
The $9.45-a-share go-private offer was made on June 10 by a group led by Richard Baker, executive chairman of HBC, representing 57 per cent of the retailer’s shares. For Mr. Baker’s group to be successful, it would need a majority of the minority of shareholders – or another 21.5 per cent – to back the offer.
Shareholders who are opposed to the $9.45-a-share proposal are marshalling support against the privatization bid for HBC, which owns its namesake chain, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor in the United States. The dissidents say the offer undervalues the troubled HBC, especially because it owns lucrative real estate. The properties include the landmark building in Manhattan that houses the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store.
Helena Foulkes, who arrived at HBC as chief executive in early 2018, said last September that the retailer’s real estate alone was worth $28 a share. However, the value of the real estate is tied to the retail operations within the stores, analysts have said. HBC has struggled to make gains in a tough department-store segment that is being rocked by shifting shopping habits and a rise in e-commerce. At the same time, HBC has been hurt by its own missteps, including in its online selling.
HBC’s shares, which traded as low as $6.37 apiece before Mr. Baker unveiled his group’s go-private offer, closed at $9.60 a share on Tuesday, down about 2 per cent on the day. But the stock is still trading above the $9.45-a-share offer, suggesting that some shareholders are betting on a higher offer.
Opponents to the offer are trying to ensure that the majority group does not get the 21.5-per-cent support it needs to succeed with the $9.45-a-share proposal to take HBC private. It’s not clear how many shares in total are held by dissidents to the bid.
A spokesman for the majority group declined to comment.
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