Shares in Rent-A-Center rose sharply on Tuesday after the struggling furniture and equipment leasor said it had rejected an “inadequate and opportunistic” $800 million takeover bid from private equity firm Vintage Capital Management.
Rent-A-Center disclosed in a regulatory filing that Vintage made a $15-a-share offer to take the company private in a letter dated June 20 and its board formally rejected the proposal on July 5.
“The board determined that Vintage’s proposal significantly undervalues the company and that the strategic plan currently being implemented by Rent-A-Center positions the company to deliver greater value to its stockholders than Vintage’s inadequate and opportunistic proposal,” the filing said.
Rent-a-Center’s stock has declined steadily amid a sales and profit slump since reaching $40.31 in August 2013. On news of Vintage’s offer, the shares rose 6.8% to $11.86 in trading Tuesday.
The proposal came less than two weeks after Rent-A-Center shareholders ousted three board members after a campaign by activist hedge fund Engaged Capital for major changes ended in a full-blown proxy fight. Three of Engaged Capital’s nominees replaced the ousted directors.
Engaged, which owns a 16.9% stake in Rent-A-Center, has urged the board to agree to explore the potential sale of the company, among other demands.
Rent-A-Center owns and operates approximately 2,600 core stores in North America and about 1,900 Acceptance Now kiosk locations. As USA Today reports, it announced a turnaround plan earlier this year that calls for upgrading to more expensive, “aspirational” products and growing online sales and its Acceptance Now financing business.
In the first quarter, the company closed 108 Acceptance Now stores, primarily due to one of its large retail partners, HHGregg, going out of business, while sales dropped 11% to $742 million
The strategic initiatives “are already delivering substantial progress in key performance metrics, including improved same-store sales and reductions in delinquencies,” Rent-A-Center said Tuesday in the regulatory filing.
Vintage Capital already owns a majority stake in Buddy’s Home Furnishings, a privately run rent-to-own peer of Rent-A-Center.