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HBC urged to cash in 'crown jewels'

Canadian Press logoCanadian Press 3 days ago

STAMFORD, Conn. - The board of Hudson's Bay Co. (TSX:HBC) is facing investor pressure to get more value from its real estate assets, even if that means closing stores including its "crown jewel" locations.

Land & Buildings Investment Management of Stamford, Conn., says in a public letter that HBC's Saks Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan is worth more than the company as a whole at current stock prices.

It estimates that the Saks flagship location would be worth C$16 per share, after debt, compared with HBC's recent stock price of C$8.88 at the close of trading on Friday.

Land & Buildings says Hudson Bay Co.'s management has many options, including going private or redeveloping its properties in Canada, Europe and the United States.

But it urges the HBC to abandon attempts to buy additional retail brands, such as Neiman Marcus or Macy's.

Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Co. says it's reviewing the letter and will respond later.

Land & Buildings Investment Management says it owns about 4.3 per cent of Hudson's Bay equity.

It says real estate executives speak highly of Richard Baker, a real estate mogul who is HBC's chairman and one of its main investors.

"That said, the jury still appears out in our view, if for no other reason that during his tenure, the company’s shares have declined from a high of nearly C$30 to the current C$8.88," the letter says.

"Hudson's Bay is a real estate company, full stop. If there is a smarter and better use of any or all of the locations, stores should be closed and redeveloped and put towards their optimal use."

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