Saks Pops on Sternlicht Bid Rumors

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Saks ( SKS) shares jumped 8% on Friday right before the close of trading, on a report New York real estate titan Barry Sternlicht is bidding for the luxury department store.

According to the New York Post citing unnamed sources, Sternlicht, the founder and CEO of Starwood Capital, is "salivating" over Saks' Fifth Avenue flagship store, which has been valued at upwards of $1 billion. Sternlicht is also CEO and Chairman of Starwood Property Trust ( STWD).

The Post reports that Sternlicht may have offered between $17 and $18 a share, not far off from the roughly $2.5 billion Lord & Taylor parent Hudson's Bay offered.

Saks shares closed on Friday up 8.2% to $15.89 on exceptionally heavy volume, trading more than five times its daily share volume.

Sternlicht wants to split Saks' real-estate holdings from the company, which could mean the department store would rent the stores it currently owns. The real estate magnet, Sternlicht, who created the W Hotels chain, could emerge as the surprise leader in the bid. He envisions current Saks CEO Steve Sadove remaining in his role, the Post noted.

The third bidder is believed to be a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund likely in Qatar.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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