Activist investor Starboard urges Macy's to strike real-estate deals : WSJ

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Investment firm Starboard Value has urged department store chain Macy's to push for realizing greater value from its real-estate holdings, including its famous Herald Square store in New York, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The activist investor, in a letter and presentation to Macy's management on Sunday, said although it supports the retail chain's plans of cost cuts, it wants the company to follow-through with real-estate deals to add more cash in its reserves, the WSJ said.

Starboard said spinning off Macy's real-estate assets could "create meaningful and lasting value for shareholders," the newspaper reported, citing the letter it reviewed.

The letter suggested two separate joint ventures, one for Macy's landmark properties like Herald Square and a second for its hundreds of mall locations, the journal said.

Starboard added that Macy's stock could trade as high as $70, nearly double its Friday closing price of $35.89, the Journal said.

Reuters could not immediately reach Macy's and Starboard Value for comment outside regular business hours.

Starboard owns a 1.04 percent stake in Macy's, according to Thomson Reuters data.

In an email reply to the Journal, Macy's said it is reviewing Starboard's letter and views expressed by the investment firm are consistent with actions already underway at the company, the paper said.

Last week, Macy's reported disappointing results and said it will eliminate more than 2,000 jobs which will help it save $400 million.

Earlier last year, Starboard bought a stake in the company and said the U.S. retail chain's stock was trading at more than 70 percent below value, and that its highly-prized real estate assets could be spun off.

By Starboard's estimate, the Herald Square store alone was worth $4 billion, while properties in San Francisco and Chicago were worth more than $1 billion.

With another 400 mall locations worth about $13 billion, Macy's had a real-estate value of about $21 billion, Chief Executive Jeffrey Smith said at a conference last year.

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