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Saks takeover talk gains pace

Shares in US department store business Saks got a boost this week amid renewed takeover speculation.

An analyst note from Citigroup said a takeover was probable after Icelandic investment company Baugur rolled over contracts for shares in Saks, retaining its 8.5% stake in the company.

Citigroup analyst Deborah Weinswig said: “We view this news as an incremental positive for our investment thesis for Saks as it increases our confidence that there is a probability of a takeout deal in Saks’ future.”

Baugur is also understood to be continuing discussions with Middle East retail company Landmark Group about a possible joint bid. The two groups own a total of 9.7% of Saks.

The share price rise, up 4.2p to US$12.49 (£6.40), followed news of management changes at the group’s Saks Fifth Avenue department store business.

Executive vice president of stores Carolyn Biggs will retire at the end of January after 15 years at the company. Jennifer de Winter, group senior vice president, will take over from Biggs. Cody Kondo, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for menswear, home, food and gifts, will take over de Winter’s previous responsibilities.

Tom Ott, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s tailored clothing and personal furnishings, will take over from Kondo. De Winter, Kondo and Ott will all report to Ron Frasch, president and chief merchant of Saks Fifth Avenue.

Chairman and chief executive Steve Sadove said: “These changes demonstrate our commitment to developing and promoting our internal talent to fill key roles, enabling us to capitalise on the strengths of our management team and continue our momentum at Saks Fifth Avenue.”

A Baugur spokesman said the contracts rollover was common investment practice and did not signal a bid intention.

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