Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Hundreds of Sears stores could survive in "last-ditch effort" to save chain

Edward Lampert is chairman of Sears which filed for bankruptcy protection in October saying it would close another 142 stores Edward Lampert is chairman of Sears which filed for bankruptcy protection in October saying it would close another 142 stores
Priscilla Morrison | 08 December, 2018, 12:03

In a move to save the bankrupt retailer, ESL Investments, the hedge fund run by Sears chairman Eddie Lampert, submitted a $4.6 billion bid on Thursday to purchase its remaining stores, which total about 500, headquarters, distribution locations, as well as Sears brands Kenmore and DieHard.

ESL Holdings said in a regulatory filing Thursday that its nonbinding offer for roughly 500 remaining Sears stores will keep about 50,000 employees working.

Edward Lampert is chairman of Sears, which filed for bankruptcy protection in October, saying it would close another 142 stores.

Lampert's proposed bid would be financed with about $950 million in added debt, with details still being hammered out. Finally, ESL would assume $1.1 billion in existing Sears liabilities, such as gift cards the department-store chain issued. Sears filed for bankruptcy in October.

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"Sears is an iconic fixture in American retail and we continue to believe in the company's vast potential to evolve and operate profitably as a going concern with a new capitalization and organizational structure", Lampert wrote in a letter detailing the offer.

In his bid, ESL also proposes to acquire Sears Auto Centers, appliance brand Kenmore, battery line DieHard and the retailer's home services division, the largest US appliance fix provider, the letter said.

If the bid is approved, Lampert said a reworked Sears business plan would focus on "a rightsized network of large format and small retail stores, digital assets and interdependent operating businesses".

CNBC reported that a "stalking horse bidder" will be named on December 15 in bankruptcy court. Further bids would trigger an auction in January.

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