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Report: Nordstrom family restarting effort to take retailer private

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 24, 2018

A Nordstrom sign is seen at a shopping mall May 9, 2013 in Brea, Calif. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
A Nordstrom sign is seen at a shopping mall May 9, 2013 in Brea, Calif. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
The Seattle Times

The Nordstrom family is reviving an effort to take their namesake retailer private, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters on Friday.

The family had suspended its effort in October but said it intended to resume exploration of a take-private offer after the holidays.

The news agency reported that the family met recently with investment bankers in preparation for an offer to buy the outstanding shares of the company that began as a Seattle shoe store co-founded by a Swedish immigrant in 1901.

A company spokeswoman declined comment, as did a representative of the Nordstrom family group.

The Reuters report, citing “people familiar with the matter,” sent Nordstrom stock up 6.5 percent Friday, closing at $53.56 a share, and giving the company a market value of more than $8.9 billion.

That’s up from the $7.5 billion it was worth on the June day the Nordstrom family group – Co-Presidents Blake Nordstrom, Peter Nordstrom and Erik Nordstrom; President of Stores James Nordstrom; Chairman Emeritus Bruce Nordstrom; and Anne Gittinger, granddaughter of the co-founder John W. Nordstrom – first disclosed its interest in taking the company private.

Analysts speculated that the family sought more latitude to transform the business away from the quarter-by-quarter scrutiny of Wall Street investors. Nordstrom has emphasized its online offerings even as it continues to invest in bricks-and-mortar locations, such as a new men’s store set to open in Manhattan this spring, and experimental formats such as a neighborhood store in Los Angeles that offers services such as tailoring and private styling.

The Nordstrom family group controls a little more than 31 percent of the company’s shares. At Friday’s closing price, the balance of the company is worth about $5.87 billion.

Nordstrom’s board of directors established a special committee to evaluate any offers to buy the company.

Nordstrom is scheduled to report financial results for the fourth quarter on Thursday. Its performance during the critical holiday sales period could influence the go-private effort. A strong quarter could convince lenders and private equity investors to back the family in a buyout bid, while weaker sales and profits could throw cold water on a potential deal.

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