Saks CEO Stays Mum on PE Takeover Rumors

I listened to Stephen Sadove, Saks Inc. chairman and CEO, present this morning at the Goldman Sachs retail conference.

In between phone calls, and other disruptions, it appears that Sadove said pretty much nada on the Saks takeover rumors. He was asked about the PE takeover talks and, at first, declined to comment. Then he spoke about how Saks has always been very focused on shareholder value. “I don’t believe, whether we’re public or private, that there are fundamental things we would do differently,” he said. “We feel very good about the team. We think we have a remarkable team.”

Late last month, the Daily Mail reported that a consortium of U.S. and British firms may make a cash offer of $11 a share, or $1.7 billion for the company. The report did not name a specific PE firm. So far no deal has emerged for Saks.

During the conference, Sadove said that the high-end consumer has returned and overall traffic patterns have improved. He is seeing strength in various categories, including shoes and handbags. “We are seeing an overall much healthier environment,” he said.

There weren’t as many bankruptcies or closures in the retail sector as expected due to the recession, he said. “The industry reacted as a whole remarkably well in reducing costs, restructuring its balance sheets and getting themselves into a position that, when the recession ended, they would be in better position.”

Later, Sadove said that the retail industry has always experienced consolidation. “Would it surprise me for there to be some industry changes? That’s the nature of retail,” he said.

That’s about it. Anyone hear any different?