Bidding War Erupts as Saks Shares Jump in New York

Saks Fifth Avenue | Source: Saks Fifth Avenue

NEW YORK, United States — Saks Inc. rose as much as 19 percent after the New York Post reported Starwood Capital Group LLC had joined bidding for the luxury department store chain.

The shares advanced as high as $17.51 before the shares rose 8.2 percent to $15.89 at the close in New York. They’ve climbed 51 percent this year, compared with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 19 percent gain.

Starwood Capital, headed by Barry Sternlicht, has offered between $17 and $18 a share, equal to an offer from Hudson’s Bay Co., the New York Post reported today, citing an unidentified source. A third bidder may be a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth find, it said.

Julia Bentley, a spokeswoman for Saks, didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment. Tom Johnson, a Starwood Capital spokesman with New York-based Abernathy MacGregor Group, declined to comment.

Saks, which is based in New York, has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for advice on its options, two people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News in May.

Saks’s annual sales haven’t recovered from their pre- recession high. The retailer posted revenue of $3.15 billion last year, short of the $3.28 billion it recorded in the retail year that ended in early 2008.

Chief Executive Officer Stephen Sadove, who has held the post for six years, has been closing the chain’s underperforming branches. It operates 42 namesake stores, compared with 54 in early 2007. Industry sources value the Fifth Avenue flagship store at $1 billion, Liz Dunn, an analyst at Macquarie Group in New York, said.

Saks could fetch $16 a share in a buyout, Michael Binetti, an analyst at UBS AG in New York, wrote in a note to clients on May 21. That would value the retailer at $2.4 billion or about 8.5 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Based in Greenwich, Connecticut, Starwood Capital invests in retail, office and residential real estate.

By: Cotten Timberlake; Editors: Robin Ajello, Ben Livesey