Della Valle Becomes Saks Largest Shareholder

Diego Della Valle

Milan—Italian businessman Diego Della Valle, owner of footwear and accessories brand Tod’s, became the largest shareholder in Saks Inc. today as he increased his shares from 11.12% to $19.05%.

Della Valle, who plans to seek board representation in the retailer, reported in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission he may holds discussions with management and leading shareholders on “potential strategies for strengthening and further enhancing” the store’s operations.

Saks Inc.’s second largest shareholder is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim who owns about 16% of the department store chain. Della Valle and his investment company increased stake includes options, according to the SEC filing.

Shares Rise 8% in Trading Today

Saks, Inc. shares were up 8% earlier today following news. Saks shares also set a new 52-week high today and, at press time, were trading at a price level not seen since September 2008. The company reports its third quarter earnings on November 16, three days before the near month November options expire.

Della Valle said last month that the recent stake-building in Saks was an industrial investment and the shares weren’t for sale.

Saks shares shot up 20% on August 31 after reports that U.S. and British private-equity firms might offer to buy the retailer. Della Valle’s current holding is just below the level that would trigger a dilutatitive “poison pill” shareholder rights agreement.

Saks has been the subject of repeated takeover and buyout speculation for at least the last five years. In 2007 Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, head of the now bankrupt Baugur retail group, said he was considering a possible bid for the company with the Dubai-based Landmark group.

The retailer operates 48 Saks Fifth Avenue department stores, as well as about 50 Off Fifth Avenue outlet stores, and licensed locations in Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

Saks also said on today that it had opened its second licensed store in Mexico City. The new 82,500-square-foot store is located in Plaza Carso, a development in Mexico City’s rapidly growing luxury zone of Polanco. The stores are run by Grupo Sanborns, the Mexican retail group.

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