Target holds off sale of credit card business

MINNEAPOLIS — Target announced that it has temporarily suspended its efforts to sell its credit card receivables portfolio. The company said it remains committed to selling the portfolio on appropriate terms, but based on discussions with potential partners the company has determined that it is not in its best interests to finalize a transaction at this time. Later in 2012, the company said it expects to re-engage in discussions with a limited number of potential partners, and expects to be well-positioned to streamline those conversations based on the groundwork established in its 2011 efforts.

Target also announced that it intends to retire the 2008 receivables financing provided by Chase Card Services, a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase. In 2011, Chase provided Target an option to retire this financing, and this option expires at the end of January. Retiring this financing, prior to its expected payoff in late 2013, will allow Target to market the portfolio when the company resumes partner discussions later in 2012. Target will pay Chase approximately $2.8 billion to retire this financing, along with a make-whole premium that will reduce fourth quarter 2011 earnings per share by approximately 8 cents. Target anticipates it will recoup some or all of the cost of this premium through lower expected interest expense in 2012 and 2013.

“Our desire to sell the portfolio on appropriate terms remains the same today as it was when discussions began, but we believe that now is not the time to finalize a transaction,” Target EVP and CFO Doug Scovanner said. “We believe a pause in discussions until later in 2012, combined with repayment of the Chase Card Services financing, will enable Target to reach an agreement with a high-quality financial partner on acceptable terms.”

In January 2011, Target announced that it intended to actively pursue a sale of its credit card receivables portfolio, and that if an appropriate transaction were to occur it likely would be achieved late in 2011 or early in 2012. The company now believes a transaction could occur in late 2012 or early 2013, about a year later than originally expected.