By  on January 8, 2010

Saks Inc. continues to draw the attention of deep-pocketed investors.

Asset management firm BlackRock Inc. expanded its stake in Saks last year, ending with 20.3 million shares, or a 12.7 percent stake in the luxury retailer, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday.

BlackRock said the stock was acquired in the “ordinary course of business” and it was not trying to influence control of the firm. It was not immediately clear exactly how much of the stake is new. BlackRock last month acquired Barclays Global Investors, impacting its holdings.

As of Sept. 30, Barclays Global Investors UK Holdings owned 7.9 million shares of Saks, while BlackRock Advisors LLC controlled 4.6 million shares, according to Yahoo Finance.

Shares of Saks slid 3.1 percent Friday to $6.94, valuing BlackRock’s stake at $140.9 million.

BlackRock is an independent company that counts Bank of America Corp., The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and Barclays PLC among its major shareholders.

Last year, Tod’s SpA chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle doubled his investment in Saks to 8.5 million shares. “Our intention is not to manage, but to watch,” said Della Valle, who acquired the shares through his investment vehicle, Diego Della Valle & C.S.A.P.A.

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú controls more than 25 million shares of Saks, at most recent count. As of Oct. 31, the firm had 152.5 million diluted common shares outstanding.

Last year was a busy one for Saks. The retailer, caught in the general downdraft of the recession and the fallout in luxury spending, issued $120 million in convertible debt, completed a $100 million common stock offering and negotiated an extension for its $500 million revolving credit facility.

Saks ended last year on the upswing. The firm’s comparable-store sales rose 9.9 percent in December. However, comps fell 7.3 percent for November and December combined.

The retailer’s strongest categories last month were women’s designer and “gold range” apparel, men’s sportswear, women’s shoes and handbags.

Elsewhere in the fashion investing world, money manager Lord Abbett & Co. said in an SEC filing that it had sold 3.2 million shares of J. Crew Group Inc. As of the end of last year, Lord Abbett held 3.3 million shares of the firm, or 5.2 percent of those outstanding.

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