SAKS HOLDER HIKES STAKE TO 16.2%

Byline: Arnold J. Karr

NEW YORK — Saks Inc.’s largest investor has added to its holdings in the company and now owns about one-sixth of its stock.
According to a Form 13-G filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Southeastern Asset Management of Memphis, Tenn., now owns 22.8 million shares of Saks stock, or 16.2 percent of the shares outstanding.
The company, headed by O. Mason Hawkins as chairman and chief executive, held 6.8 percent of Saks stock at the end of 1999 and increased its holdings to 10.2 percent in February, when it last filed a 13-G concerning its Saks position.
Southeastern owned 13.7 percent of the stock when Saks’ proxy was issued in April.
Shares of Saks, parent of Saks Fifth Avenue and numerous department stores, closed at 10 3/4 Friday, down 1 1/4, or 10.4 percent, for the day but above the 52-week low of 10 last reached on June 29. Southeastern’s Saks holdings are worth approximately $245.3 million at Friday’s closing price. Saks’ 52-week high is 29 7/8.
On Thursday, Saks reported its same-store sales declined 1.6 percent in June.
Charles Reaves, vice president and general counsel of Southeastern, told WWD Friday that “investments of 15 to 20 percent aren’t that unusual for our company. There are probably 25 to 30 firms that fall into that category with us.”
He said Southeastern didn’t comment on individual holdings and didn’t make investments on the basis of a company’s sector. “We don’t look at industries,” he said. “Our investments are based on our belief that a company’s stock is undervalued.”

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