TWO INVESTORS BUY 6% OF KMART STOCK
NEW YORK — Two Los Angeles area investors have purchased 6 percent of Kmart Corp.’s common stock.
Having made purchases as early as last October and as recently as last Friday, Ronald Burkle and Kenneth Abdalla have acquired more than 29 million shares of Kmart stock, according to a 13-D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As individuals and through affiliated firms including Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. and Abdalla’s American Cos., since mid-November the two have acquired about 12.8 million Kmart shares at prices ranging from $4.97 to $6.54 a share. The total investment in the last 60 days is just under $80 million.
In a separate development, BlueLight.com, Kmart’s e-commerce unit, said it is ending its free unlimited Internet access to all subscribers and replacing it with tiers of access comprising free and paid service. In the next 30 days or so, BlueLight will determine how many hours non-paying subscribers can stay online and how much the paid service will cost.
BlueLight on Dec. 22 began limiting its subscribers to no more than 25 hours of free Net access a month, barring the busiest surfers from hanging on the service still longer. Since it was launched in December 1999, BlueLight has signed on more than six million subscribers. It was forced to take over the access service after its strategic partner, Spinway Inc., shut down last month.
Following the release of the news regarding the Kmart investors Tuesday, the retailer’s shares topped $7 for the first time since Sept. 13. They kept rising throughout the day, closing at $7.63, up 81 cents or 11.9 percent.
The purchases were made for investment purposes, the 13-D said, although the report said that Burkle has been in contact with Kmart management “in his capacity as a shareholder to discuss shareholder concerns” and “may undertake such communications in the future.”
Burkle, who also serves as chairman of Cyrk Inc., a promotional marketing firm based in Wakefield, Mass., notified the SEC on Oct. 13 of his intention to acquire less than 15 percent of Kmart’s common stock. Early termination of the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period was granted on Nov. 6, clearing him to purchase up to 15 percent without seeking SEC approval.