Business

Belk shareholders to vote on Sycamore deal Wednesday

Customers wait in line to check in line to take part in Belk’s Charity Day sale at SouthPark Mall on Nov. 9, 2013.
Customers wait in line to check in line to take part in Belk’s Charity Day sale at SouthPark Mall on Nov. 9, 2013. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-based Belk will hold a special shareholder meeting Wednesday in which shareholders will vote on – and likely approve – the proposed acquisition by private equity group Sycamore Partners.

The vote is one of the final steps needed in the sale of the homegrown retailer, which traces its roots to a little shop in Monroe that started in 1888. Belk has since grown into the nation’s largest family-owned department store chain, with 296 stores in 16 states.

The meeting, which is open only to shareholders, will take at Belk’s headquarters at 2801 W. Tyvola Road at 10 a.m.

Belk’s board of directors approved the $3 billion acquisition by New York-based Sycamore in August. The completion of the sale is contingent upon the majority of the company’s Class A and Class B shareholders approving the deal. Class A shares are entitled to 10 votes vs. one vote for each Class B share.

The Belk family controls more than 70 percent of the company’s stock. The biggest block of the company’s Class A stock is held in a series of family trusts.

The company has said certain Belk stockholders agreed to back the transaction, giving the deal the support of a majority of the voting power of the company’s shares. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

A “yes” vote Wednesday will draw to a close the more than yearlong drama in which Belk considered a sale to another department store chain and listing its shares on an exchange before agreeing to the Sycamore deal. Belk said it ultimately decided to explore an ownership change because of the challenges it faces in the fast-changing retail environment.

CEO Tim Belk will stay on to the lead the company, although his brother, Chief Operating Officer Johnny Belk, is expected to depart early next year to pursue other interests.

Katherine Perata: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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