HBC, RioCan agree to sell Vancouver store for $675 mln: Reuters

Canadian department store owner Hudson’s Bay Co and joint venture partner RioCan REIT have signed a conditional agreement to sell HBC’s flagship store in downtown Vancouver for about $675 million (US$524.4 million) to an Asian buyer, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The buyer, who owns a closely-held real estate company, is seeking to arrange interim financing from at least one Canadian lender, according to the person, who declined to be identified as the deal has not been made public yet. The source declined to identify or give the nationality of the buyer, but said the deal is expected to be finalized by mid-June.

RioCan and Hudson’s Bay, which owns the Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor brands, said in October they were exploring the sale of the store. Hudson’s Bay will lease back space in the property and continue to operate the store, they said then.

A HBC spokeswoman declined to comment. RioCan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

HBC shares rose as much as 4.3 percent, and were trading up 2.2 percent at $9.07 at 10:10 am ET. RioCan shares rose 0.4 percent to $23.47, while the Toronto stock benchmark added 0.7 percent.

The deal progresses HBC’s efforts to extract value from its substantial real estate holdings as it battles a retail industry-wide slump and faces investor pressure to lift its share price. It follows the sale of its Lord & Taylor flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue to WeWork Companies Inc for US$850 million last year.

Hudson’s Bay shares have lost two-thirds of their value in the past three years, hurt by disappointing earnings for several quarters. The company valued its real estate at US$35 a share before the Lord & Taylor store sale.

RioCan shares have fallen 21 percent in the same period, compared with a 2.4 percent gain in the Toronto stock benchmark. RioCan is also shifting its strategy, honing in on malls in major Canadian cities and developing more condos and rental apartments to capitalize on surging demand for housing.

The joint venture between HBC and RioCan now owns properties including Hudson’s Bay stores in Montréal, Calgary and Ottawa, as well as 50 percent stakes in Oakville Place and Georgian Mall in Ontario.

The joint venture was owned 88.1 percent by HBC and the rest by RioCan, but its terms entitle RioCan to 20 percent of the sale proceeds, the person said in October.

CBRE and Brookfield Financial Real Estate Group handled the sale.

Update: Last year, U.S. private equity firm Rhône Capital invested US$500 million ($632 million) in HBC. The deal was announced alongside WeWork’s proposed buy of HBC’s Lord & Taylor store.

(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Denny Thomas, Jeffrey Benkoe and Susan Thomas)

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