NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue may not officially be up for sale, but that’s not stopping financial and real estate firms from kicking the tires.
Said a financial source: “Six to eight venture capital companies are looking at Saks. If someone came forward with a preemptive bid, they would listen. At some point, the business will get sold.”
According to two sources, Tri-Artisan Capital Partners and Vornado Realty Trust are among those firms evaluating the possibility of buying the chain.
Philip Miller, a former Saks Fifth Avenue chairman and chief executive, is an operating director at Tri-Artisan, advising the company on potential acquisitions in retail and consumer goods and on business plans. If Tri-Artisan bought Saks, it wouldn’t exactly be a homecoming for Miller, since it’s believed he is not interested in running SFA again, but he could play an important role as a consultant. Miller declined to discuss the matter. He’s currently interim ceo of St. John and searching for a new ceo there.
Tri-Artisan provides advice on mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and other financial plays, and is involved in private equity transactions.
Vornado Realty, one of Manhattan’s biggest real estate holders, also has a 33 percent stake in Toys ‘R’ Us and controls the real estate portfolio of the former Alexander’s in the greater New York metropolitan area. A spokeswoman for Vornado would not comment on the Saks report, citing company policy.
Though speculation on Saks Fifth Avenue continues to swirl, a deal is probably not imminent. Its parent, Saks Inc., is focused on selling the Parisian business, which is officially on the block, and management is working hard to improve the SFA operation. Potential buyers for SFA also could have their eyes on Lord & Taylor, a division of Federated Department Stores that is expected to be sold this year.
“Anybody can make a run at Saks anytime, but I really think it’s a year out,” said a source close to the business.