Hudson's Bay Co. looking to raise $365 million in initial public offering

TORONTO – Canada’s oldest company, Hudson’s Bay Co., returned to the public stock market Tuesday with muted reaction as shares in the company closed slightly lower than the initial asking price of $17.

HBC (TSX:HBC) plans to sell a total 21 million shares — about one-fifth of the company’s stock — raising about $365 million through an initial public offering. The $17 asking price values the company at about $2 billion.

Shares in the company closed 25 cents lower than its initial bid price at $16.75 after some 4.3 million changed hands Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange in early trading before the sale of its shares closes next week.

True share trading under the symbol “HBC” is expected to begin on the closing of the offering, expected Nov. 26.

The owner of the Bay, Home Outfitters and U.S. retailer Lord and Taylor says the IPO will primarily consist of a treasury offering of 14.7 million common shares, grossing about $250 million before expenses.

Proceeds from that portion of the IPO will go to HBC, which will use the funds to reduce its debt.

There will also be a secondary offering by Hudson’s Bay Company (Luxembourg) of 6.7 million common shares, for gross proceeds of $115 million for the selling shareholder.

The private Luxembourg holding company will continue to have about 98 million common shares of the Toronto-based public company, or about 82 per cent of the Hudson’s Bay Co.’s outstanding stock.

The company says the IPO price values the department store company at about $2.04 billion.

The offering is being made through a syndicate of underwriters led by RBC Capital Markets, BMO Capital Markets, CIBC and BofA Merrill Lynch.

Hudson’s Bay says the Toronto Stock Exchange has conditionally approved the listing of the company’s common shares subject to fulfilling the customary TSX requirements.

HBC last traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2006 before it was taken private by U.S. businessman Jerry Zucker, who later died unexpectedly. New York-based NRDC Equity Partners acquired the company in 2008 for $1.1 billion from Zucker’s widow.

Since then, the company has been working to transform its stores and revamp its image into a more upscale retailer.

Hudson’s Bay Co. said in a revised prospectus its preliminary results suggest its third quarter revenues were up 3.8 per cent from the same time last year but its margins were squeezed by shortages and seasonal clearance markdowns.

Preliminary results showed total revenue rose to $930.4 million for the third quarter ended Oct. 27.

That’s up $33.7 million from $896.7 million in the comparable quarter last year.

The company, which plans to use the proceeds of the offering to repay debt, said it has improved sales productivity and earnings growth, partially through a capital investment of more than $420 million since 2009, but added it has more work to do.

HBC said it plans to pay a quarterly dividend with a target payout ratio of 20 to 25 per cent of expected net earnings.