Business

Belk shareholders approve sale to Sycamore Partners

Belk SouthPark
Belk SouthPark mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Shareholders of Charlotte-based Belk on Wednesday approved the sale of the company to New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners, one of the last steps needed to end family control of the department store chain.

The $3 billion deal announced in August has passed all required regulatory approvals, Belk said in a statement Wednesday. It is subject to certain closing conditions and is expected to be completed in late November or early December.

“The vote is a recognition of the considerable value and retail sector experience that Sycamore is bringing to Belk as we build on our 127-year history,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Belk said.

The vote took place at a special meeting at the retailer’s headquarters at 2801 W. Tyvola Road that was open only to shareholders.

The sale to Sycamore ends local control of an iconic business that traces its roots to a small shop that started in Monroe in 1888. The company’s now in its third generation of family leadership, including CEO Tim Belk.

The completion of the deal was contingent upon the majority of Belk’s Class A and Class B shareholders approving the deal. Class A shares were entitled to 10 votes; each Class B share got one vote.

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

Belk executives have said that after the sale, customers and employees won’t notice major changes. Its headquarters will remain in Charlotte, for example, and no store closings or layoffs are planned as a result of the deal.

CEO Tim Belk will remain at the helm of the company, though his brother, Chief Operating Officer Johnny Belk, is expected to depart in early 2016 to pursue other interests.

Sycamore has a portfolio consisting mostly of investments in specialty apparel companies including Aéropostale, Coldwater Creek, Hot Topic, Jones New York, Nine West Holdings and Talbots. Belk is its largest deal yet, and its first department store purchase.

Belk operates 296 stores in 16 Southeastern states.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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