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Austria’s Signa eyes bid for Hudson’s Bay Co’s Kaufhof: Reuters

Austrian real estate company Signa Holding is considering a bid for Germany’s Galeria Kaufhof, a department store chain owned by Hudson’s Bay Co, according to people familiar with the matter.

Signa, which owns Kaufhof’s German competitor Karstadt, is working with an investment bank to line up financing for a takeover offer, the sources said. They cautioned that Signa had not made a formal offer and might decide not to bid for Kaufhof.

The company previously tried to buy Kaufhof in 2015, when the Canadian company Hudson’s Bay outbid it by paying 2.42 billion euros (US$2.92 billion) for the German chain and its Belgian subsidiary.

Hudson’s Bay, which owns Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord and Taylor department stores, said that the company does not comment on rumors or speculation. Signa declined to comment.

Signa’s potential bid coincides with Hudson’s Bay executives mulling a possible deal of their own. Reuters reported on August 25 that Hudson’s Bay had hired a financial adviser to review strategic options, including the possibility of taking the company private.

On Tuesday, Hudson’s Bay reported a steeper-than-expected quarterly loss. While Saks’s results were strong, Hudson’s Bay’s European operations had the biggest fall since the company’s purchase of Kaufhof.

Hudson’s Bay is under pressure from U.S. activist hedge fund Land and Buildings Investment Management. The activist has pressed the company to explore a sale and issued a release on Wednesday that hinted at a potential buyer.

Land and Buildings, a top 10 shareholder in Hudson’s Bay with a roughly 4 percent stake, said in a statement that the company was not moving fast enough to address its lagging stock price, and that the hedge fund was aware of a “third party buyer” interested in Kaufhof.

Land and Buildings went on to say that it believed the buyer was willing to pay a premium to what Hudson’s Bay paid in 2015, though the fund did not name the third party.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday that the third party Land and Buildings was referring to was Signa. Land and Buildings declined to comment on the name of the third party.

Update: Following the publication of this story, Hudson’s Bay said it had no intention of selling Galeria Kaufhof to Signa.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Grant McCool)

(This story has been edited by Kirk Falconer, editor of PE Hub Canada)

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch