Debt-laden Neiman Marcus says exploring options, including sale

Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:05pm EDT
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By Lauren Hirsch and Jessica DiNapoli

(Reuters) - Luxury fashion retailer Neiman Marcus Group said on Tuesday that it was exploring options, including changes to its capital structure or a sale, as it seeks relief from a swelling debt load amid renewed buyout interest from Hudson's Bay Co (HBC.TO: Quote).

The announcement follows a Reuters report earlier this month that the company had turned to investment bank Lazard Ltd (LAZ.N: Quote) to explore ways to bolster its balance sheet. Neiman Marcus has total liabilities of $6.4 billion, including $1.2 billion of deferred income taxes.

Hudson's Bay, owner of the Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue retail chains, is in exploratory talks to acquire Neiman Marcus, people familiar with the matter said. It last considered acquiring Neiman Marcus in 2013, sources said at the time.

Hudson's Bay's interest comes as the retail sector faces headwinds that have dented the company's own sales and made it difficult to line up equity financing for a bid for department store operator Macy's Inc (M.N: Quote), sources had told Reuters.

With Neiman Marcus' bonds trading at about half their par value, a sale of the company would likely require creditors accepting a steep haircut on their holdings, making an acquisition challenging to structure and pull off, especially for Hudson's Bay, which has market capitalization of C$2.1 billion ($1.6 billion) and net debt of $4.5 billion.

Hudson's Bay and Neiman Marcus declined to comment.

Hudson's Bay, Neiman Marcus and Macy's are under pressure to offer discounts to entice shoppers who increasingly prefer the prices and convenience of internet retailers.

Dallas-based Neiman Marcus' woes have been exacerbated as affluent Texans have cut back on shopping because of a drop in energy prices, while a stronger U.S. dollar has restrained spending at Bergdorf Goodman department store, a popular New York tourist destination that is owned by Neiman.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO - A customer walks by the Neiman Marcus Last Call store in Golden, Colorado, U.S. on January 23, 2014.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo