March 20, 2018

Activists Win As Lord And Taylor Flagship Building Sold

27 October 2017, 12:27 | Kenneth Drake

HBC to sell Lord & Taylor flagship store; wins equity injection

HBC sells flagship New York location to WeWork for US$850M

(HBC.TO) said Tuesday that it has agreed to sell the Lord & Taylor Fifth Avenue building in NY to WeWork Property Advisors in a deal valued at $850 million, or C$1.075 billion.

The retailer expects to continue to run the Lord & Taylor store on Fifth Avenue in a shrunken space in that building after WeWork converts it into its NY headquarters as well as shared office space to lease to other businesses or individuals.

The company's flagship building has been a presence on Fifth Avenue for more than a century; the 11-story limestone structure opened in 1914, and was named a New York City landmark in 2007.

No word yet on what this change means for Lord & Taylor's iconic Christmas window displays (or the fake forest that transforms the front of its flagship every holiday season), but the change is expected to happen "after Christmas next year".

All of this made the partnership much more appealing for Hudson's Bay. On Monday he called a special shareholder meeting to potentially remove directors.

The real estate transaction not only signals WeWork's desire to own big buildings outright, but a concession by Hudson's Bay Company that their path to profitability lies not in brick-and-mortar shopping, but property sales.

"This move does give the company some breathing space, not just financially but with activist shareholders", said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, a division of Raymond James, which doesn't own HBC shares.

"But I feel it's more a temporary reprieve than getting someone off their back".

WeWork will also lease space at Hudson's Bay stores in Toronto and Vancouver and at Galeria Kaufhof in Frankfurt.

HBC has repeatedly claimed its real estate is worth three times more than its current market cap. It now has 237 office locations in 56 cities and 20 countries.

"All of this was being worked on prior to us ever hearing about Litt's investment", Baker said.

In addition, Rhone Capital will make $500 million equity investment in HBC in the form of eight-year mandatory convertible preferred shares.

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