The Daily Chase: HBC owner buys Neiman Marcus with Amazon's help

Signage is displayed inside a Hudson's Bay Co. store in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Jan. 11, 2017. Bloomberg/Ben Nelms

Here are five things you need to know this morning:

HBC owner offers to buy Neiman Marcus: The owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson's Bay Co. and other retail chains is buying Neiman Marcus for US$2.65 billion. The retail conglomerate led by Richard Baker is putting up $2 billion of equity from investors but also partnering with Amazon and Salesforce on the pact that will merge the two department store chains under one banner. Geographically, the deal makes a lot of sense as Saks has a strong presence on the U.S. East Coast while Neiman Marcus is a larger player in the southern and western states. While the HBC connection is obviously of interest to Canadians, the move is also significant in that it represents Amazon’s first foray into physical retail since their acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017.

Canada moving ahead with digital services tax despite threat of U.S. pushback: The federal government has authorized the implementation of a new tax on large foreign tech companies that operate in Canada despite threats of retaliation from the U.S. government. According to a government notice posted online, as of June 28, the levy of three per cent on Canadian revenue from companies like Netflix, Meta, Alphabet, Amazon and others will be implemented retroactive to the 2022 tax year. The tax would only be on digitally-focused foreign companies that operate in Canada with more than $1 billion in international revenue, and only apply on the amount they take in over $20 million. It’s been estimated the move could raise as much as $7 billion a year for Ottawa’s coffers. But the long proposed move is still significant, given that U.S. law makers have threatened to retaliate and fight the move via CUSMA’s formal dispute resolution process.

Toronto home sales tick up in June but volume and prices still way down from last year: New numbers on the Toronto housing market were released this morning, and the data showed that the number of homes sold ticked up in June compared to the previous month, the first time that’s happened since January. That’s perhaps to be expected given the Bank of Canada cut lending rates for the first time in four years during the month, but overall, the numbers paint a picture of a market that is much slower than it was a year ago. Sales were down by 16 per cent compared to June 2023, and at $1.09 million, the benchmark selling price is down by 4.9 per cent since then, too. The numbers no doubt give a preview of the national data set to be released next week.

Short sellers targeting Air Canada: Short sellers are taking aim at Air Canada’s shares to a level not seen in almost three years. Short interest in Air Canada stood at 19 per cent in early July, according to a Bloomberg report citing financial data firm S3. That’s more than double the seven per cent short interest rate seen this time last year, and the highest clocked since 21 per cent were shorted in December 2021, when air travel was still recovering from the depths of the pandemic. “Investors are concerned about a slowing Canadian economy and a potential increase in pilot pay once they negotiation their contract,” TD Cowen analyst Helene Becker told Bloomberg.

Election day in the U.K.: It’s voting day in the United Kingdom, and if polls are to be believed, the governing Tories are on track for a historic defeat and the end of their 14 years in power. Labour leader Keir Starmer is expected to take office once the votes are counted, in what would be the biggest change to British politics since 2010 – an era that has seen more than its fair share of tumult. The biggest event is likely the Brexit vote in 2016, when British voters narrowly chose to leave the EU trading bloc. Starmer has already said that he has no plans to revisit that controversial plan. Markets in London are up slightly today.