Activist investor wants more from Macy's

Posted at 9:48 AM, Jan 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-11 09:48:30-05

CINCINNATI -- Macy's Inc. said it welcomes and is reviewing materials from activist investor Jeffrey Smith, who urged the company over the weekend to take a new look at spinning off an estimated $21 billion in real estate holdings.

Smith, CEO of Starboard Value LP, sent a letter to Macy’s management and the Wall Street Journal Sunday, urging the company spin off its highest-profile locations - like New York’s Herald Square store - into one joint venture, then form a second joint venture for mall-based properties.

Smith argued such an approach would create “meaningful and lasting value for shareholders,” according to the Journal. In a statement Monday, Macy's expressed a willingness to study Starboard's ideas.

"We appreciate the input from all of our shareholders, including Starboard," the company said. "The viewpoint expressed by Starboard is consistent with actions already under way at Macy's to explore joint venture and other potential relationships related to the company's real estate and to improve our profitability from operations. We look forward to continued dialogue with Starboard and other shareholders."

Macy's announced a cost-cutting plan last week that will shutter 40 stores and save the company $400 million annually.

It also announced that it has hired a team of investment bankers and real estate advisors to explore ways of monetizing the company's real estate assets through partnerships and joint ventures. Starboard initially asked Macy's to form a real estate investment trust, but the company rejected that idea in November.