Macy’s Inc. may have another activist investor on its hands.
Billionaire Daniel Křetínsky, listed as being from the Czech Republic, has bought 5 percent of Macy’s and appears ready to exert some influence.
He has accumulated 15.5 million shares, or 5 percent of the company, including shares held by investment vehicles that he controls. Macy’s stock closed at $5.27, down 10 cents or 1.9 percent Monday on the NYSE. In February, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Macy’s stock to junk status.
Investors accumulating 5 percent or more of a public company’s shares are required to file documentation with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to his SEC filing, Křetínsky, through his Vesa Equity Investment firm, bought up the shares “for strategic investment purposes” and he intends to “engage in constructive discussions with the issuer’s management and/or board of directors, other stockholders of the issuer and other interested parties that may relate to the business, management, operations (including cost structure), assets, capitalization, financial condition, strategic plans, governance and board composition and the future of the Issuer.”
If Křetínsky decides to make a lot of noise, he could push for the retailer to be more aggressive closing stores and monetizing real estate to create some shareholder value.
Earlier this year, Macy’s revealed a massive restructuring and three-year strategy called “Polaris” involving closing 125 stores, cutting 2,000 workers in the corporate and support staff and closing the Cincinnati corporate offices, as well as moving the dot-com headquarters. The plan has since been amended because of the pandemic and now Macy’s is likely to permanently close many more than the 125 stores previously cited. Macy’s restructuring strives for big savings — $600 million this year and $1.5 billion by year-end 2022.
Since closing all of its stores in mid-March due to the coronavirus, Macy’s over the last weeks opened about 120 of its stores in some capacity or another. Some locations have certain floors and departments closed off from the rest of the store, most likely in categories that are very depressed due to COVID-19, such as dresses, workwear and men’s tailoring. Beauty, home, active and leisurewear have been selling well online, however.
Some Macy’s stores will also only be operating their “At Your Service” counters for pickups and returns. All Macy’s stores are expected to be operating in some capacity in the next several weeks. That of course depends on all the states giving the OK, and if Macy’s decides the costs are worth it. Macy’s also has about 470 stores fulfilling orders placed online and 100 locations providing curbside pickups.
Two years ago, Starboard Value was after Macy’s to monetize its real estate by creating a real estate investment trust, but Macy’s balked at the idea and Starboard got out of its Macy’s holding. Starboard once valued Macy’s real estate at around $21 billion, which was far more than Macy’s market capitalization of $1.63 billion at the time.