Miami Based Hedge Fund Manager Advocates Kohl’s Sale Amid Retail Turbulence

In a significant development within the retail sector, Vision One Management Partners, a Miami-based hedge fund co-chaired by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is making waves as it urges U.S. department store giant Kohl’s to explore a sale. This move comes amidst Kohl’s struggles to navigate the challenges of the ever-evolving retail landscape.

Sources familiar with the matter reveal that Vision One Management Partners, founded by Harper and former Carl Icahn protégé Courtney Mather, has not only acquired a stake in Kohl’s but has also communicated its concerns directly to the company. The Miami hedge fund is actively pushing for Kohl’s to initiate a sale process and has expressed a desire for representation on the company’s board.

The pressure on Kohl’s from Vision One Management Partners follows the rejection of an acquisition offer in 2022, valued at up to $64 per share. Since then, Kohl’s has grappled with profitability challenges in its stores and a struggle to expand its e-commerce business, resulting in a significant decline in its stock price to approximately $26.

Kohl’s, home to over 1,100 stores across the United States and boasting a notable retail partnership with LVMH’s Sephora, finds itself in a fiercely competitive retail environment. The call for a sale by the Miami hedge fund adds to the mounting challenges for Kohl’s, making it the second U.S. department store operator to face such investor pressure in recent times.

The retail turmoil extends beyond Kohl’s, with Macy’s rejecting a $5.8 billion privatization offer just last month, emphasizing concerns about valuation and potential financing issues.

The Miami hedge fund, Vision One Management Partners, is not alone in its advocacy for change at Kohl’s. Ancora Holdings, Macellum Capital Management, and Legion Partners Asset Management are among other activist hedge funds that have previously sought alterations within the company.

Vision One Management Partners, launched in 2022, focuses its investments primarily on mid-sized American companies in the industrial and consumer sectors. As of May 2023, the fund oversees assets totaling around $128 million.

Harper, known for his political career and co-founding Canada’s modern Conservative Party, brings his expertise to the financial sector. Mather, having worked as a portfolio manager for activist investor Carl Icahn, is a director at Caesars Entertainment, further solidifying the credibility of the Miami hedge fund in financial circles.

As the retail saga unfolds, the role of the Miami hedge fund in advocating for change at Kohl’s adds a unique dimension to the ongoing narrative, highlighting the increasing influence of activist investors in shaping the future of prominent retail players.