Activist investor Jana Partners takes stake in Macy’s, calls for digital industry spin-off

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People wear masks as they walk through Herald Square on January 8, 2021 in New York City.

Angela Weiss | TBEN | Getty Images

Activist investor Jana Partners took a stake in Macy’s and sent a letter to the department store chain’s board on Wednesday urging it to part ways with its e-commerce business, a person close to the case.

The person said Macy’s online business has already attracted interest from companies investing in it, in conjunction with a spin-off company.

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Macy’s shares climbed nearly 4% Thursday afternoon following the report, which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The retailer’s inventory has grown more than 107% since the start of the year.

A representative for Macy’s declined to comment. Jana did not immediately respond to TBEN’s request for comment.

In a presentation earlier this month, Jana said Macy’s online business could be worth around $ 14 billion, which is more than the department store’s current $ 7 billion market value. Jana suggested the split at that time without saying anything about her stake in the department store operator.

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Macy’s told investors in August that it expected its e-commerce sales this year to be between $ 8.35 billion and $ 8.45 billion, after nearly doubling in the past four years.

Such a separation would mimic that of high-end department store operator Saks Fifth Avenue, which earlier this year dumped its digital business into a separate company. The deal valued Saks.com at $ 2 billion, roughly double its annual sales.

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