Kohl’s receives take over offer

The offer values the retailer at $9 billion

A group led by Acacia Research (ACTG), which is controlled by activist investor Starboard Value, offered to buy Kohl’s (KSS) for $64 per share in cash, a 37% premium to Friday’s closing price of $46.84 and an offer that values the department store operator at roughly $9B. There are no guarantees that the group will ultimately line up all the funding needed and make a firm offer, but the bidders told the company they have assurances from bankers about being able to get financing for the bid, sources added. 

Kohl’s (KSS) is fielding takeover offers from at least two suitors, CNBC’s Lauren Thomas and Leslie Picker reports. Sycamore is willing to pay at least $65 per share for Kohl’s, people familiar with the matter tell CNBC.

The offer from Sycamore came two days after Acacia Research (ACTG), which is backed by activist investment firm Starboard Value, offered to pay $64 a share for Kohl’s, sources said. According to the sources, 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.

Kohl’s confirmed that it has received letters expressing interest in acquiring the company. The Kohl’s board of directors will determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. Shareholders are not required to take any action at this time. Kohl’s does not intend to further comment publicly on these matters unless it determines it is in the best interests of shareholders to do so.

Cowen

 Cowen analyst Oliver Chen raised the firm’s price target on Kohl’s to $75 from $73 and keeps an Outperform rating on the shares. The analyst said the potential bid implying 3.7x TTM EV/EBITDA appears very modest based on his leveraged buyout returns analysis. He said a transaction would likely require monetization of $3bn+ of real estate via a sale leaseback. He believes other strategic/financial bidders are possible.

Citi

Citi analyst Paul Lejuez keeps a Buy rating on Kohl’s with a $73 price target following reports that Starboard Partners and Acacia Capital made an unsolicited bid for the retailer at $64 per share. The analyst believes Kohl’s management is using appropriate strategies to drive value and that the Sephora partnership “is a game-changer.” However, he also believes Kohl’s is a “mispriced asset.” The company is a strong free cash flow generator, and it doesn’t seem to be getting credit by the market, “making it reasonable to consider offers,” says Lejuez.

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse analyst Michael Binetti notes media reported that Starboard-backed activist Acacia (ACTG) has made a bid of $64/share for Kohl’s (KSS), and that other suitors are contacting Kohl’s as well. The focus seems aligned with another activist pushing Kohl’s to act more urgently to turnaround retail ops, but more importantly to significantly bolster shareholder cash returns via more aggressively exploring potential monetization of real estate assets, the analyst notes.

Binetti believes that the key question is whether Kohl’s will see a bidding war that could result in the stock running above the current activist’s bid at $64/share. Per conversations with real estate contacts, Kohl’s could certainly fetch higher valuations for its stores, the analyst contends. Activist plans typically focus on strategies like pulling forward monetization of real estate today, and Binetti does think there’s some merit to Kohl’s embracing a slightly more aggressive real estate strategy to bolster shareholder returns today. He has a Neutral rating and a price target of $70 on the shares.

KSS is up $15.84 to $62.68.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.

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