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Dec 12, 2017

Land & Buildings again urges HBC to consider real estate sale

Hudson's Bay Company needs to get back to the basics: Retail expert

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Activist investor Land and Buildings on Tuesday reiterated that Canadian department store operator Hudson's Bay Co's real estate assets were worth substantially more than the company's current market valuation.

Jonathan Litt-led Land and Buildings, which held a five per cent stake in Hudson's Bay as of July, has been pressing the company to boost its sliding share price by extracting value from its real estate holdings.

"We note that Hudson's Bay world class real estate is valued at $31 per share ... yet it is trading at $10 per share," Litt wrote in a letter to Hudson's Bay shareholders.

"HBC's third quarter earnings disappointment ... gives us more reason to view and value HBC as a real estate company," he said.

The activist investor also highlighted the demand for retail real estate, citing Unibail-Rodamco's recent US$16 billion bid for Australian shopping mall owner Westfield Corp.

Hudson's Bay is battling an industry-wide slump as consumers shift to online shopping, and has announced job cuts as it struggles to turn around sales. It sold its flagship Lord & Taylor in New York for $850 million, and has put up its Vancouver store for sale for $900 million.

Litt said the company's real estate and capital deals could give it a cash hoard of more than US$3 billion, which would help fund a going private transaction

Earlier this month, Land and Buildings had reached an agreement with Hudson's Bay regarding an investment from Rhone Capital.

Hudson's Bay's shares have fallen nearly 17 per cent this year.