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BJ’s Wholesale Club launches IPO

Warehouse club chain begins trading today on NYSE

BJ’s Wholesale Club has made its return as a public company.

After filing for an initial public offering in mid-May, BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. yesterday announced an IPO of 37.5 million shares of common stock at $17 per share, raising $637.5 million.

Today, the warehouse club chain began trading under the ticker symbol “BJ” on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares opened up 25% at $21.25 per share, which published reports said valued the company at about $2.7 billion.

Westborough, Mass.-based BJ’s said it expects the IPO to close on July 2, pending customary closing conditions. The offering’s underwriters have been granted a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 5.625 million shares of common stock.

As of early afternoon trading on Thursday, BJ’s shares were at $21.46, with prices ranging from a low of $20.56 to a high of $23.01.

BJ’s has rejoined the stock market after a nearly seven-year absence. In September 2011, investment firms Leonard Green & Partners and CVS Capital Partners took the wholesale club private via a $2.8 billion buyout, which came after a year of speculation about a potential takeover of the chain. Holders of BJ’s common stock received $51.25 per share in cash under the deal.

At the time of the buyout, BJ’s operated 190 warehouse clubs in 15 states, primarily in the Northeast. The retailer currently has 215 stores, plus 134 fuel stations, in 16 states.

For its 2017 fiscal year ended Feb. 3, BJ’s reported sales of nearly $12.5 billion, up 3.3% year over year. Comparable-club sales, including fuel, inched up 0.8%. Net income totaled $50.3 million, up from $44.2 million a year earlier.

The day that BJ’s announced its IPO filing, the company said President and CEO Christopher Baldwin added the chairman’s title and that nonexecutive chairman Laura Sen was retiring from the board. Baldwin has served as president and CEO of BJ’s since February 2016, taking over from Sen, who held that role since February 2009. She became nonexecutive chairman when Baldwin was appointed CEO.

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