June 18, 2019 / 11:26 AM / 3 months ago

Investor Litt says Hudson's Bay worth double chairman's C$1.74 billion bid

(Reuters) - Activist shareholder Jonathan Litt lambasted a C$1.74 billion bid to take Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Co private as “woefully inadequate” on Tuesday, saying the chairman-led shareholder group looking to push through a deal could double the offer.

The shareholder group, which collectively owns 57% stake in the struggling retailer, made an offer last week to buy the company for C$9.45 per share, with plans to fund the deal using some of the proceeds from asset sales.

Litt, however, said if the buyout group used all the proceeds from asset sales, rather than a part of it, it could raise the offer to C$18 per share.

He also asked the special committee of independent directors, tasked with evaluating the latest offer, to hire an independent investment bank to evaluate the value of Hudson’s Bay’s real estate and retail banners.

Litt’s Land and Buildings and other shareholders have long criticized Hudson’s Bay for not doing enough to capitalize on the value of its properties.

Hudson’s Bay real estate was worth as much as $6.4 billion or $35.24 per share, the company said in 2017.

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.

Shares of the company, which owns the Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor retail chains, have risen nearly 61% to C$10.25 since Baker’s proposal.

The department store operator has been shuttering underperforming shops to cut costs and stay competitive among discount brands and e-commerce behemoths such as Amazon.com Inc and is the latest retailer to consider going private.

Last year, members of Nordstrom Inc’s founding family offered $8.4 billion for the company, but abandoned the bid once Nordstrom’s special board committee rejected it.

Litt also said he believes it was highly unlikely that a majority of the shareholders outside the buyout group will approve the transaction.

Hudson’s Bay and the buyout group were not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Shradha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Sweta Singh

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