The Real Deal Chicago

Hundreds of Sears stores could remain open after Lampert wins auction for firm: report

The company chairman’s $5B bid for the retailer was said to include plans to keep 425 stores
January 16, 2019 08:00AM

A closing Sears store and Edward Lampert (Credit: Getty Images)

Hundreds of Sears stores could remain open if a bankruptcy judge approves Chairman Edward Lampert’s $5 billion bid for the ailing retailer.

The Sears Holdings board picked Lampert’s offer over competing bids from liquidators after weeks of negotiations and two days of closed-door discussions in New York, sources told Bloomberg.

The board was poised last week to ask the court for permission to liquidate before pivoting at the last minute and agreeing to give Lampert one more chance to sweeten his offer for the 126-year-old retailer.

Lampert, head of hedge fund ESL investments, upped his offer by $150 million in response, Bloomberg said. He’s proposing keeping 425 stores nationwide open.

The winning bid is the latest in Lampert’s long list of maneuvers to turn the embattled company, based in Hoffman Estates, around.

Since engineering the 2005 acquisition of Sears by Kmart, Lampert has slashed expenses, sold off assets and closed hundreds of money-losing stores.

But it wasn’t enough. Sears filed for bankruptcy protection in October after years of declining sales and store closures, pummeled by the rise of e-commerce.

Since the bankruptcy filing, the once-mighty retailer has announced several more rounds of store closures. [Bloomberg] — John O’Brien