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Kohl's has been a publicly traded company for 30 years. The company and industry have gone through plenty of swings during that time. Some of the latest swings in both the market and Kohl's has left the company facing down activist investors.
As Kohl's struggles to get traction on a lasting turnaround, activists have agitated for everything from board changes, to stock buybacks, to an e-commerce spinoff, to a potential sale of the entire company.
On the latter front, the retailer has received interest from financial buyers, including private equity firm Sycamore Partners. While Kohl's has rejected bids for it so far, and adopted a poison pill to ward off a hostile takeover, the possibility of other, higher bids remains.
Such a deal would put Kohl's in the company of scores of retailers over the past two decades that have been sold to private equity. The debt financing of those deals has proved a steep burden for many. According to Retail Dive research, of over 100 retail names that have gone through private equity acquisitions in the past two decades, more than 40% have gone bankrupt at some point after.
On this episode of The Backroom, Retail Dive senior reporters Daphne Howland and Ben Unglesbee discuss how Kohl's came under activist pressure, as well as the potential consequences to retailers of some of the moves that activists have clamored for.
- Kohl's has location, partnerships and a savvy CEO: Why isn't that enough?
- Selling out: What retail leaders need to know before striking a deal with private equity
- Kohl's acknowledges takeover interest
- Kohl's investor suggests company sale, sets stage for board fight
Editor's note: This show was produced and edited by Caroline Jansen.