×

Activist Litt willing to let HBC devise own plan for real estate

TORONTO, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Activist investor Jonathan Litt, who is pushing for retailer Hudson's Bay Co to boost its stock by generating more cash from its real-estate holdings, said he is open to letting the retailer come up with its own strategy to unlock value.

Litt, who runs the hedge fund Land and Buildings Investment Management LLC that disclosed a 4.3 percent stake in Hudson's Bay in June, told Reuters that he wants the company to provide concrete steps it will take to monetize its real-estate, including a timeline for executing the plan.

"They haven't really given a clear roadmap," he said in an interview on Wednesday. "We would like to have them articulate a detailed plan on how they're going to unlock the value inherent in the real estate in the portfolio."

Litt on Monday threatened to launch a proxy war to remove Hudson's Bay directors if they do not act to generate value from their real estate.

"We don't believe that status quo is acceptable," Litt said in the interview with Reuters.

HBC said an investor presentation posted on its website in April that its real estate was valued at C$35.24 per share. Its stock was trading at C$11.40 on Thursday.

Company representatives declined to discuss the substance of Litt's letters or respond to his threat to launch a proxy battle.

"We are constantly evaluating additional opportunities" to create value, company spokeswoman Jennifer Vargas said in a statement.

It said the firm has generated more than C$3 billion ($2.4 billion) in cash from its real estate assets since 2011.

Litt, a former Citigroup real estate analyst who invests in real-estate companies he believes are in need of change, wants HBC to focus more on its real estate than its retail brands. His ideas include reinventing the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York and exiting Europe.

"Our view is the department store business is changing rapidly," Litt said. "There is likely a higher and better use of many of the locations which they own."

HBC is the first retailer targeted by Litt, 53. In the past year, he has pushed for the sale of Brookdale Senior Living Inc , Forest City Realty Trust Inc and FelCor Lodging Trust Inc. ($1 = 1.2571 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Jim Finkle and Lisa Shumaker)