Nordstrom Explores Going Private

Jun 08, 2017

Shares of Nordstrom jumped over 10% on Thursday after the luxury department store operator disclosed it was pursuing a potential sale that would take the company private.

In a statement, the company announced that members of the Nordstrom family—including company co-presidents Blake W. Nordstrom, Peter E. Nordstrom, and Erik B. Nordstrom—have formed a group to explore a potential "going private transaction" that would involve the acquisition of 100% of Nordstrom's (jwn) outstanding shares. The company's board has also formed a special committee that would weigh any possible transaction.

The company stressed it couldn't make any assurances about the potential details of any transaction, nor guarantee that any proposed takeover offer would be accepted by the special committee. The Nordstrom family, which collectively owns 31% of Nordstrom's shares, says the group it formed hasn't yet made a proposal.

Nordstrom, along with other brick-and-mortar department stores, has struggled with poor traffic trends as consumers increasingly ditch the local mall for e-commerce competitors like Amazon.com (amzn). As Fortune retail reporter Phil Wahba noted in a magazine story earlier this year, as recently as 1999, department stores had total sales of $230 billion. Last year, that was down to $155.5 billion. To add fuel to the fire, department store shares were dinged earlier this week after Macy's (m) warned gross margins for the year would be lighter than anticipated in February.

If a deal for Nordstrom were to occur, the buyer would acquire a retailer that opened its first store in 1901, called Wallin & Nordstrom, in Seattle. Decades later, Nordstrom debuted on the public markets in 1971 and, two years after that, saw annual sales surpass $100 million as it opened more stores across the West Coast. Today, the company has 344 stores in the U.S., five locations in Canada, and operates e-commerce shops via Nordstrom.com and TrunkClub.com. It booked $14.5 billion in sales last year, an increase from $14.1 billion in 2015, though profitability declined.

Nordstrom's market value stands at $7.5 billion as of Thursday afternoon.

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