Boosting bid to take HBC private ‘most likely path’ to success, analyst says

TORONTO — An analyst says the insider group behind a privatization bid for Hudson’s Bay Co. will need to boost its offer to convince minority shareholders to vote for the proposal.

CIBC analyst Mark Petrie says an increased bid from the group led by executive chairman Richard Baker is “the most likely path” to privatization, but “it is far from clear whether this is in the cards.”

Minority shareholders are set to vote Tuesday on the $10.30 per share offer from the Baker-led group, while the deadline to vote by proxy is Friday.

Petrie says it “appears increasingly unlikely” that minority shareholders will approve the deal given dissident shareholder Catalyst Capital Group owns a roughly 17.5 per cent stake and a proxy advisory service has recommended shareholders to vote no.

Two other proxy advisory services have, however, encouraged shareholders to vote for the proposal.

The bid also faces a lawsuit and ongoing hearing at the Ontario Securities Commission — both seeking to block the offer.

“We continue to believe a modestly boosted bid from the majority group should be enough to get the deal done, but at this stage handicapping probabilities is futile,” Petrie wrote.

HBC shares are trading 16 per cent below the offer price after gaining 22 cents or 2.6 per cent to $8.65 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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