UPDATE: January 2, 2020: Investors led by Hudson's Bay Co. Chairman Richard Baker are considering increasing their offer from 10.30 Canadian dollars ($7.93 at time of publication) per share to CA$11 per share, to buy the retailer and take it private, according to multiple reports in media outlets, including Women's Wear Daily, Bloomberg and Reuters.
According to Reuters, Baker and his partners "floated" the idea of a higher bid by minority shareholders, including Catalyst Capital. Catalyst fiercely opposed the original offer and made one of its own roughly equal to the new one now being considered by Baker.
- Hudson's Bay Co. nixed a special meeting set for Tuesday for shareholders to vote on a take-private deal proposed by an investor group that includes the retailer's executive chairman, Richard Baker.
- The company said in a press release it planned to schedule a new date for the meeting "as soon as practicable" and would provide additional information about the deal, required by the Ontario Securities Commission, ahead of the meeting.
- On Friday, the commission ordered Hudson's Bay to revise an information circular around the deal. According to Reuters, Hudson's Bay afterward agreed with the commission to postpone the meeting for voting on the transaction. Reuters also reported Friday that the retailer didn't have enough shareholder support to approve the deal. On Sunday, Bloomberg reported that the Baker group was considering tabling the deal.
Baker's deal to take Hudson's Bay private is once again in limbo after coming under fire from a private equity firm Catalyst Capital Group, which had requested the review of Hudson's Bay's circular, slammed the deal publicly and made a counter-offer that would pay more money per share for the company.
Catalyst is still actively campaigning against the deal. In a press release Sunday, the firm said in a statement that the "[t]ime has come for HBC Special Committee to engage with Catalyst on its superior offer."
"The OSC hearings have demonstrated that numerous questions remain unanswered and undisclosed, and the directors of HBC need to finally step up and be transparent," Gabriel de Alba, managing director and partner of Catalyst, said in a statement. "The disregard for minority shareholders, not to mention the massive waste of shareholder funds, also must come to an end."
As the battle for the company's future rolls on, last week Hudson's Bay reported a widening loss and declining sales in its most recent quarter. As it tries to execute a turnaround, this year the department store has shuttered its Canadian Home Outfitters retail business, downsized its Saks Off 5th footprint and sold off European holdings in the Netherlands and Germany.
Analysts with Cowen & Co. said in an emailed note earlier in December that each of Hudson's Bay's banners "has distinctive opportunities ahead which need to yield a better total customer experience." They pointed to the need for more personalization and a connected digital experience at Saks, for faster turns and more "treasure hunt" experiences at Saks Off Fifth, and for better service and assortment at Hudson's Bay's eponymous brand.