Nordstrom's attempt to go private has stalled over financing, sources say

Key Points
  • Attempts to take Nordstrom private have stalled over financing difficulties.
  • Banks are wary of taking on too much risk and are skittish over retail challenges.
William Thomas Cain | Bloomberg | Getty Images

family members are struggling to cobble together the financing to support their attempt to take the eponymous department store private, people familiar with the matter said Monday.

The Nordstrom family is working with private equity firm Leonard Green to provide equity financing on the deal, CNBC earlier reported, but it will need bank support for the debt financing. It will need both equity and debt financing before it can submit a bid to the independent special committee it has appointed to review any offer.

Banks have become skittish as the retail landscape has worsened. They are wary of difficulties in syndicating the debt, reminiscent of banks' struggles with Sycamore Partners' $3 billion purchase of department store operator Belk Inc.

Leonard Green, on the other hand, likewise has limits in the amount of equity it is willing to put in and the debt financing rate it is willing to swallow, the sources said.

The longer the deal takes to be signed, the closer the banks get to the unpredictable holiday season — a critical sales period — which can make it harder to put together a deal, the sources said.

The talks are ongoing, said the sources, though the chances of a deal have decreased over the last two weeks.

Nordstrom and Leonard Green did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The New York Post first reported on the challenges.

The Nordstrom family group, which owns 31.2 percent of the 116-year-old retailer, said in June it was looking to take private.

Several private equity-backed retailers have buckled under the weight of large debt loads that have hampered their ability to invest in e-commerce and adapt to the rapidly changing retail industry. Private equity-backed Payless ShoeSource and Gymboree filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, while Neiman Marcus is currently working with restructuring advisors.

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