Shares of Nordstrom Inc. spiked 8.8 percent in after-hours trading following talk that the retailer was close to a deal with private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners to take the company private.
Word first surfaced in June that the Nordstrom family was considering the move so it can make investments in the company without having to deal with being under the proverbial “glass fishbowl.” That fishbowl often subjects public firms to the intense scrutiny and criticism of investors.
Shares of Nordstrom were trading at $49.00 at 5:22 p.m. That’s compared with Tuesday’s closing price of $45.05.
Family members have said that they do not intend to sell their shares. They own a 31 percent stake in the company. A deal with any investor would be an assist in acquiring the public shares that are being traded. The thinking has been that an investment by an outside investor for $1 billion would likely translate to at least $5 billion in debt.
CNBC, which first reported about Nordstrom and Leonard Green moving closer to a deal, said about $7 billion to $8 billion in debt would be needed to finance the deal.
Executives at both Nordstrom and Leonard Green could not be reached by press time.
Joel Bines, managing director and cohead of the retail practice at AlixPartners, said taking the company private translates into “having more time and fewer prying eyes as the company figures out which ingredients it will use to go into the recipe for the cake that they will ultimately bake for the future. For sure, they are experimenting. Nobody knows what the answer is for Nordstrom or any other retailer. We are writing the book while we are living in it…This is about trying to figure out how to stay relevant and figure out how to compete in an environment that is changing daily and has no precedent.”