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Belk Up for Sale

Word on the street is the family-owned department store chain Belk is seeking a sale that could be valued at up to $4 billion, including debt.

A source revealed to Reuters that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based retailer, which operates 297 locations throughout the south as well as an online store, has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore a potential sale. Macy’s, Bon-Ton and Nordstrom, as well as large private equity firms, are expected to be contacted.

The 127-year-old company, currently in the third generation of Belk family leadership, is projected to have annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization this year of around $400 million.

It recently reported its fifth consecutive year of positive comparable store sales in 2014 but saw profits decline to $146.1 million from $158.5 million the previous year due to higher expenses associated with its investments in such strategic initiatives as new store openings, expansions and remodels as well as an enhanced omnichannel effort.

The source said it’s not immediately obvious why the Belk family is considering a sale, but that the move is one in a number of strategic alternatives suggested by Goldman Sachs.