Activist investor Litt may seek removal of HBC directors: Reuters

Activist investor Jonathan Litt, who is pushing for change at Hudson’s Bay Co, said on Monday he is considering seeking the removal of several directors at a special shareholder meeting following the abrupt departure of its chief executive officer.

The exit of HBC CEO Gerald Storch, announced on Friday by the company, underscored the board’s attempt to “buy time and placate investors to address underperformance and undervaluation,” Litt, the founder of U.S. hedge fund Land & Buildings Investment Management, said in a statement.

Land & Buildings holds about 5 percent of the shares of HBC, which owns the Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor retail chains. The hedge fund has been pushing the Canadian retailer to take action to extract value from its substantial real estate holdings to boost the share price and consider other options, including the sale of Saks.

Shareholders require a 5 percent stake under Canadian rules to call for a special meeting.

HBC shares dropped 3.4 percent to $11.56 on Monday, the lowest since early September, extending this year’s loss to 11.6 percent, compared with a 15.4 percent gain in the S&P 500 Retailing Index .SPXRT and a 4 percent rise in the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSK composite index GSPTSE.

Land & Buildings has no confidence the board will take the action necessary to address the undervaluation, Litt said, adding he will call a special meeting of shareholders.

“We are evaluating a number of proposals on which we believe the voices of shareholders should be heard, including the removal of directors from the Board, and will announce the full slate of proposals and next steps in the Special Meeting process shortly,” Litt said.

(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mark Blinch