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Hudson's Bay Co secures shareholder approval to become a private company

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Saks Fifth Avenue owner Hudson’s Bay Co said on Thursday it won shareholders’ approval to become a private company in a C$2 billion deal proposed by Chairman Richard Baker.

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Baker and his partners had been in a tussle with the department store operator’s top shareholders over the deal. The retail mogul fell short in an earlier vote to approve his take-private quest last year, Reuters reported, but later won the support of a significant shareholder after bumping the offer price to C$11 per share.

“Our reason for wanting to be private was so that we can focus our time and energy and dollars on re-investing in the business,” Baker told Reuters. “We will be able to use our dollars to re-invest online and re-invest in product and in sales teams and in our stores, and I think that will put us in a better position to grow our business.”

The move comes as the retailer struggles to increase sales in a competitive market, forcing it to close shops and sell units to focus on luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue and its Hudson’s Bay stores in Canada.

The deal was backed by 98.28% of all shareholders and 94.46% common shareholders, a company spokeswoman told Reuters.

The company expects the process to be completed on or around March 3.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Saks Fifth Avenue will expand into bankrupt fashion chain Barneys’ Beverly Hills shop, giving Saks three locations on Wilshire Boulevard: its men’s shop, a department store and the third spot in Barneys.

Baker said on Thursday the expansion is “a great example” of what Hudson’s Bay will be able to do as a privately held company. The take-private deal will allow them to reallocate space and sales among the three buildings on the swanky strip “in order to maximize our offering, maximize our sales and maximize the value of the real estate,” Baker said.

Hudson’s Bay will also license the Barneys brand from its new owner, Authentic Brands Group LLC. The chain in the past has also considered acquiring competitor Neiman Marcus Group Inc, Reuters has reported.

“I think the luxury space is ripe for consolidation, and we like to think of ourselves as the strongest player in the luxury space and a likely consolidator,” Baker said.

Reporting by Melissa Fares and Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Additional reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Steve Orlofsky

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