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Sears receives $4.6B bid to buy chain from bankruptcy

Thomas Barrabi

Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund on Thursday submitted a $4.6 billion bid to buy the bankrupt retailer, according to a report Thursday.

The hedge fund, ESL Partners, has asked to buy Sears’ 500 remaining stores and $1.8 billion in the chain’s retail inventory, credit card and pharmacy receivables. The offer includes $950 million in cash through an asset-based loan facility and a “credit bid” of $1.8 billion. Lampert would also take on an estimated $1.1 billion in debt and other liabilities.

“Sears is an iconic fixture in American retail and we continue to believe in the company’s immense 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.

After years of plunging sales and declining store traffic, Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October and said it would close 142 underperforming store locations. Lampert stepped down as CEO when the bankruptcy proceedings were announced, but remained the company’s chairman and has been expected to submit an offer to buy the chain through his hedge fund. He is also Sears’ largest investor.

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.” A successful bid would preserve the jobs of 50,000 Sears employees, he added.

Sears faced a Dec. 15 deadline to find a bidder for its remaining stores. Further bids would trigger an auction in January.

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