Sears will stay in business as judge approves Eddie Lampert's bid

10 Février, 2019, 20:10 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Edward Lampert left has been criticised for not investing in his stores

Lampert, who is bidding $5.2 billion for the assets through his hedge fund, also wants to buy some of Sears' best known brands, such as Kenmore appliances and DieHard batteries.

Drain could rule for Sears, even if the creditors don't agree with the decision.

Mr Lampert's hedge fund firm, ESL Investments - which lent money to Sears and also invested in the spin-offs - has maintained those transactions were transparent and fair.

The judge's decision saves Sears from liquidation, but still unanswered is whether Lampert can reinvigorate a retail chain that many consumers have fond memories of, but no current relationship with.

Attorney David Wander, who represents four creditors, including two apparel manufacturers, said the approval of Lampert's bid is good for everyone.

Schrock argued that the proposal to liquidate would not raise more money than a sale, as claimed by the creditors.

He also asked Drain to consider the plight of the Sears employees. He overruled objections, including from an unsecured creditors committee.

"Liquidation can be the better option", he said.

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"The reality, as we know from our lived experience, is that Lampert has been putting the company through the longest liquidation in retail history".

A USA bankruptcy judge on Thursday approved Sears Holdings Corp Chairman Eddie Lampert's $5.2-billion takeover of the beleaguered retailer, allowing the department store chain to avert liquidation and preserve tens of thousands of jobs. The agency said last month that it would seek to take over Sears' plans, which cover more than 90,000 people.

Over the next few years, Lampert's business plan calls for him to sell about $200 million a year in real estate and more than $900 million in assets overall, according to court testimony Thursday. Drain said he could not rule on the issue Thursday, but suggested that ESL would be forced to assume that debt.

James Bromley, ESL's attorney, said the disagreement can be settled in future negotiations after the deal closes.

Sears and ESL Investments are still working out the final details of the plan, such as which side would be responsible for $166 million owed to vendors, the New York Times reports, but lawyers said they were hoping to close the deal Friday.

Lampert, who arranged an $11-billion merger between Sears and discounter Kmart in 2005 and tried for years to boost business, wins another chance to try to revive what once was the biggest USA retailer.

When Lampert combined Sears and rival chain Kmart, the merged retailer had almost 3,500 stores and employed more than 300,000 people, a work force that shrank to 68,000 when it filed for bankruptcy.

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