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

08 December 2018

Newco expects to provide offers of ongoing employment to approximately 50,000 employees of Holdings and to reinstate Holdings' prepetition severance program for the benefit of all eligible employees at the close.

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 USA appliance fix provider, the letter said.

In a letter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lampert, Sears chairman and former CEO, said the bid by affiliates of ESL - Sears largest shareholder - includes up to $950 million in cash, a new loan and a $1.8 billion credit bid that would swap out ESL's debt holdings in Sears for ownership in the new company. Included in the $4.6 billion bid is a credit bid valued at $1.8 billion.

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The 500 stores Lampert and ESL want to retain include the Sears at Whitehall Mall in Whitehall Township, along with three area Kmarts - one each in Wilson, Walnutport and Wind Gap, according to the SEC filing.

Despite efforts to cut costs by closing hundreds of stores, Chicago-based Sears has lost more than $11 billion since 2011.

Firms that specialize in going-out-of-business sales, so-called liquidators, were also expected to make preliminary offers to shut Sears down, according to sources familiar with the matter.

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In its letter, ESL said it believes long-struggling Sears can successfully reorganize around the smaller group of stores. The more recent budget came after Sears said it planned to sell 505 stores that would continue in business, about 100 more than initially planned, which may have affected revenue forecasts. Finally, ESL would assume $1.1 billion in existing Sears liabilities, such as gift cards the department-store chain issued.

Others interested in acquiring Sears' assets have until December 28 to submit bids under the timeline approved by the Bankruptcy Court.

More than a decade ago, the hedge fund manager touted his merger of Kmart and Sears as laying the groundwork for their revival, a scenario that not only didn't pan out, but had Lampert stepping down as CEO of the retailer just after its bankruptcy filing, while retaining the title of chairman.

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ESL's takeover bid features financing from a variety of sources and a complicated structure not uncommon in bankruptcy auctions.

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