The Nordstrom Family Attempts to Privatize US Retailer

20 March 2024 2223
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The founding family behind Nordstrom Inc is seeking to take the U.S. department store operator private, six years after a similar attempt proved unsuccessful, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The deal deliberations come as Nordstrom and other U.S. retailers grapple with consumers curbing their discretionary spending following a bout of inflation and high interest rates. Macy's Inc, opens new tab, another department store operator, has also become a takeover target.

Nordstrom has asked investment banks Morgan Stanley and Centerview Partners to reach out to private equity firms and gauge their interest for a potential deal, the sources said.

There is no certainty that an agreement will be reached, the sources added, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Nordstrom and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. A Centerview spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nordstrom shares rose 12% to $19.22 on the news on Tuesday, giving the company a market value of $3.2 billion. The company also has debt net of cash of about $2.3 billion.

Nordstrom has more than 350 stores as well as e-commerce operations. Chief Executive Erik Nordstrom and other members of the Nordstrom family collectively own about a 30% stake in the Seattle-based company.

Nordstrom formed a special board committee in 2017 to consider a bid by the family to go private and explored a deal with several private equity firms, including Leonard Green. The special committee in 2018 turned down an $8.4-billion offer as inadequate.

Earlier this month, Nordstrom forecast annual results largely below Wall Street expectations as price-conscious consumers weigh on revenue. One bright spot has been Nordstrom Rack, its discount chain, that has been adding stores.

Investment firms Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital have been seeking to take Macy's private for $6.6 billion and have also mounted a challenge to its board. Macy's has so far rebuffed these firms' overtures, but the two sides remain in talks.

Ryan Cohen, the billionaire investor and chief executive of video game retailer GameStop Corp, revealed last year he had amassed a 4.2% stake in Nordstrom but did not press on with plans for a board challenge.