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Nordstrom presses pause on plans to go private

Nordstrom Inc. said Oct. 16 that it would hold off on making a deal to go private until 2018.

The Seattle-based retailer said in a statement that members of the chain's founding family have told a special committee on the company's board of directors that they will resume work on a deal "after the conclusion of the holiday season."

The committee "is prepared to thoroughly evaluate such a proposal from the [family] at that time, if one is made," the company said in its statement. The committee is working with Centerview Partners LLC as its financial adviser and Sidley Austin LLP as its legal counsel.

Nordstrom's announcement stalls plans first made public in June, when the department store chain said it had formed the special committee to investigate how the founding family could repurchase all of the company's outstanding shares. Together, the family members own 51,830,957 shares, or roughly 31.2% of all outstanding shares, according to a filing submitted to the SEC on June 7.

Subsequently, the family worked with Leonard Green & Partners LP on a deal potentially worth $10 billion. Although discussions progressed well initially, banks approached to finance the deal wanted to wait until 2018 to extend credit because they were not sure that they could sell the debt ahead of the holiday shopping season, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 16.

The Nordstrom family considered issuing more equity in an effort to save the deal in early October but ultimately could not decide where the stock would come from, the Journal reported.

Shares of the retailer were down about 5.7% at $40.21 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, after the company made its announcement.

Nordstrom's efforts come as traditional retailers of all stripes attempt to compete with online retailers, most notably Amazon.com Inc. Many brick-and-mortar stores have sought financial help, up to and including bankruptcy, as they attempt to survive.