Sears’ biggest holder bids $4.6B for rest of bankrupt chain

NEW YORK (AP) — Eddie Lampert and his ESL Holdings hedge fund are offering to buy the rest of Sears for up to $4.6 billion in cash and stock in a move to stave off liquidation.

The Sears chairman and ESL founder own just under half of the Hoffman Estates, Illinois, company, according to FactSet. Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, weighed down by years of declining sales and massive debt. It then said it would shutter 142 unprofitable stores in the hopes that it could stay in business.

ESL Holdings said in a regulatory filing Thursday that its nonbinding offer for the roughly 500 remaining Sears stores will keep about 50,000 employees working. The offer is subject to due diligence and ESL’s ability to get financing, among other things.

“ESL believes that a future for Sears as a going concern is the only way to preserve tens of thousands of jobs and bring continued economic benefits to the many communities across the United States that are touched by Sears and Kmart stores,” the firm said in a prepared statement.

The pace of the deterioration has been rapid.

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