Kohl’s shares soar as activist investor group looks to add 9 directors to board

Customers leave a Kohl’s store on November 12, 2015 in San Rafael, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Kohl’s shares soared more than 9% in premarket trading Monday after a group of activist investors confirmed it has nominated nine directors to the company’s board, looking to turn the business around and boost its stock.

The group consisting of Macellum Advisors, Ancora Holdings, Legion Partners Asset Management and 4010 Capital owns a combined 9.5% stake.

The investors want Kohl’s to add directors with deep retail experience, cut executive compensation, slash inventory levels and consider selling some of its noncore real estate. The investors estimate the real estate assets could yield $7 billion to $8 billion.

They are hoping to drive the stock price more than two-times higher than current levels, through a sale-leaseback program for $3 billion worth of real estate, and a major share repurchase program.

A spokeswoman for Kohl’s told CNBC in an emailed statement that the retailer’s board and its management team have been engaged in talks with the investor group since early December.

“We remain open to hearing new ideas,” she said. “Kohl’s is deeply committed to enhancing shareholder value.”

As of Friday’s market close, Kohl’s shares are up nearly 20% from a year ago. With a market cap of about $8.3 billion, Kohl’s has grown to be larger than Nordstrom and Macy’s.

Read the full letter from the investor group.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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