Hudson's Bay set to bid for Metro's Kaufhof soon: source

Thu Jun 4, 2015 4:59pm EDT
 
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By Matthias Inverardi

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Canadian retailer Hudson's Bay HBC.TO plans to make a binding bid for Metro's (MEOG.DE: Quote) department store chain Kaufhof as soon as possible, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The company, which operates Hudson’s Bay in Canada and U.S. luxury chains Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, intends to invest heavily in the chain, in particular extending its online business and better integrating it with stores, the source said.

It does not plan to close any of Kaufhof's 120 stores in Germany and 16 in Belgium and could use the deal as the foundation to expand further into Europe, with further purchases possible, the person added.

The Canadian department store operator's new chief executive Gerald Storch said on Tuesday Hudson's Bay was keen to expand abroad, but did not comment directly on Kaufhof.

Metro said last month it was in talks about selling Kaufhof and repeated that conditions for a sale were an appropriate price, a convincing concept for the future of the chain, and solid financing.

Metro has long been keen to sell Kaufhof to focus on its core cash-and-carry and consumer electronics businesses.

Sources previously told Reuters that Hudson's Bay had made a non-binding offer with a value similar to a separate bid made by Austrian investor Rene Benko, who offered 2.9 billion euros ($3.3 billion) for Kaufhof. Sources say Metro could make a decision on the sale this month.

Benko already owns struggling German department store chain Karstadt and is expected to merge the two businesses if his bid is accepted, potentially resulting in store closures and job losses.   Continued...

 
A woman walks through the doors at the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) flagship department store in Toronto January 27, 2014.  REUTERS/Mark Blinch