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Jun 10, 2019

HBC soars as chair leads bid to take Canada’s oldest retailer private

Richard Baker could potentially make HBC the 'Stanley Cup winner' of retail: Burt Flickinger

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Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC.TO) Executive Chairman Richard Baker is spearheading an attempt to take the retailer private.

Baker is leading a group that owns 57 per cent of HBC’s common shares and is proposing to buy full control of HBC at $9.45 per share, compared to Friday’s closing price of $6.37.

The company's shares ended Monday trading up 42.23 per cent - or $2.69 - at $9.06.

“While we continue to believe in HBC’s long-term potential, it has become clear that the significant challenges, risks and uncertainties facing HBC in the rapidly evolving retail environment are best addressed in a private market setting,” Baker said in a release Monday.

In a separate release, HBC said its board has formed a special committee to consider the privatization proposal, which was delivered more than a decade after Baker’s private equity firm swept in to buy the company as a building block in a growing retail industry empire.

The Baker-led group’s announcement came a few minutes after HBC announced it would raise $1.5 billion by selling its stake in a German real estate joint venture and some related assets. The company also said it will review options for operations in the Netherlands.

Baker’s group said in a release their proposal in conditional on HBC closing the European asset sales that were announced Monday.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and RBC Capital Markets are serving as financial advisors to the Baker-led group, which also includes Rhône Capital, WeWork Property Advisors, Hanover Investments (Luxembourg) S.A., and Abrams Capital Management.