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Kohl’s ignites bidding war and stock jumps 16%

A bidding war for discount department store Kohl’s has erupted, sending its share price up more than 16%. At least three bidders — including Hudson’s Bay, the Canadian holding company that owns Saks Fifth Avenue — are submitting bids Wednesday to potentially acquire the discount department store, The Post has learned. The other two bidders are believed to be private-equity firms, Leonard Green & Partners and Sycamore Partners. The latter did not respond for comment. Hudson’s Bay and Leonard Green declined to comment. After activists investors agitated for the Wisconsin-based retailer to put itself up for sale and make changes to its management, Kohl’s swattted away two acquisition offers earlier this year. Since then, the retailer’s banker — Goldman Sachs — set up a formal bidding process several weeks ago. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the bids were due Wednesday. The bids, according to the source, are slightly higher than the previous two bids from Sycamore Partners at $65 per share and from activist investor Acacia Research at $64 per share. The new offers are for between $67 and $69 per share, this source said. As previously disclosed, the board’s engagement with potential bidders is robust and ongoing,” Kohl’s spokeswoman, Jen Johnson said. “The board will measure potential bids against a compelling standalone plan and choose the path that it believes maximizes shareholder value.” Pressure has been mounting on the 1,162 store chain to shake up its management and or to sell itself this year with activist investor Macellum calling for the company to overhaul its board of directors entirely. Engine Capital, which on Wednesday also submitted another letter to the board, called for a board overhaul. “It is our understanding that Kohl’s is finally running a competitive sale process months after we urged the Board to do so,” according to the letter. “We remain concerned, however, that the Board may reject a final offer based on a misguided and unrealistic conclusion that it undervalues Kohl’s.” If Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay, which also owns the Canadian department store by the same name, ultimately acquires the company, it could bring the chain to Canada for the first time. Sycamore Partners owns Staples, Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and Belks department store, and it most recently pulled out of a deal to acquire Victoria’s Secret after the pandemic began — which resulted in litigation. Leonard Green & Partners owns brand licensing giant, Authentic Brands Group, owner of Aeropostale, Barneys New York, Forever 21 and dozens of other retail brands. Kohl’s shares were up by more than 16% on the bidding news.

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