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Kohl’s shares surge as takeover offers emerge from suitors including Sycamore


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People shop at Kohl’s department store amid the coronavirus outbreak on September 5, 2020 in San Francisco, California.
Liu Guanguan | China News Service | Getty Images

Kohl’s shares soared more than 31% on Monday, as the department store chain is fielding takeover offers from at least two suitors.

Private equity firm Sycamore is willing to pay at least $65 per share for Kohl’s, implying a 39% premium to the stock’s last close of $46.84, people familiar with the matter told CNBC on Sunday. These people requested anonymity because the talks are private.

The offer from Sycamore came two days after Acacia Research, backed by activist investment firm Starboard Value, offered to pay $64 a share for Kohl’s, according to people familiar with the proposal.

These sources tell CNBC that Acacia and Starboard would likely partner with Oak Street Real Estate Capital to try and sell off Kohl’s real estate to raise more money. In the past, however, Kohl’s has opposed such a sale-leaseback deal.

Kohl’s confirmed in a statement that it has received letters expressing interest in acquiring the business. It said its board of directors “will determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.” Kohl’s said it doesn’t plan to further comment publicly on the letters.

Representatives from Sycamore, Acacia and Oak Street Real Estate didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comments.

In recent weeks, Kohl’s also has been facing pressure from activist investors Macellum Advisors and Engine Capital to improve its business and boost its stock price.

Kohl’s responded by saying its strategy is working. It pointed to growing sales and profitability in the fiscal third quarter and the launch of new initiatives, including Sephora shops inside of its stores.

Last April, the department store chain reached a deal with a group of activists that included Macellum to add two of the group’s nominees to its board as independent directors.

Credit Suisse analyst Michael Binetti said he expects that Kohl’s could warrant a per-share value of between $70 and $80, based on the valuation of its retail operations.

“We do think there’s some merit to Kohl’s embracing a slightly more aggressive real estate strategy to bolster shareholder returns today,” said Binetti, in a note to clients.

As of Friday’s market close, Kohl’s had a market cap of $6.5 billion.


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