Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Sears hires advisers for bankruptcy filing

Sears may be preparing to file for bankruptcy ahead of a Monday debt payment Sears may be preparing to file for bankruptcy ahead of a Monday debt payment
Priscilla Morrison | 10 October, 2018, 18:37

The Wall Street Journal quoted sources saying Lampert wants to restructure and is anxious that a bankruptcy filing will lead to a liquidation, which has happened with so many retailers, the most recent being Toys R Us.

"The problem in Sears case is that it is a poor retailer", said Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail, in a Tuesday research note, where he wrote that he wasn't surprised the retailer was preparing for a possible bankruptcy filing.

Sears is considering filing for bankruptcy protection as soon as this week as it faces a large debt repayment on Monday, reports The Wall Street Journal.

M-III Partners has been working the past couple of weeks at Sears Holdings' headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Ill., people familiar with the situation told the Journal.

Sears had no comment on the report.

More news: Here’s all the new hardware Google announced today

Sears, once the world's largest retailer, has struggled in the face of declining foot traffic in its stores. But if Sears is now in touch with banks to secure the financing needed for a bankruptcy filing, as CNBC reported Wednesday morning, that could send the surest signal that such a move may not be so far off.

In afternoon trading, Sears shares lost 6 percent to 58 cents.

Sears continues to discuss other options and could still avert an in-court restructuring, the people added. Lampert is the company's biggest shareholder.

Last month, ESL Investment, the hedge fund owned by Lampert, urged the retailer to sell $1.5 billion more in real estate and restructure $1.1 billion in debt to avoid bankruptcy, according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Even after several rounds of store closures across the country in recent years, the holding company still operates around 500 Sears stores and 360 Kmart stores. Sears mentioned those constraints as part of a proposal it offered to sell real estate to help pay down borrowings, which would cut debt by almost 80 percent.

In August, the board said it was weighing an offer from Lampert that Sears should sell its Kenmore brand and said ESL might offer to buy it if it was willing to sell. While much of his focus revolved around Sears's online presence, upkeep on physical stores has diminished.

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