Deadline to buy retailer is today | News Coverage from USA

Deadline to buy retailer is today

Anyone who wants to buy Sears out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy has only a few hours left to make a move, but no one has so far.

All bids must be submitted to by Friday at 4 p.m. ET. Whether Sears chairman Edward Lampert will formally toss his hat in the ring remains to be seen. 

Lampert put forward a $4.6 billion proposal to buy the company out of bankruptcy through his hedge fund, ESL Investments, on Dec. 6. The deal included 500 stores, 50,000 employees, the Kenmore appliance and DieHard tool brands, key real estate and the company’s inventory and receivables. 

However, Lampert hasn’t officially submitted a bid.

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Should Sears not find the investment it needs, the company could be forced to liquidate some assets. Last week, for example, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain allowed the beleaguered retailer to sell its home-improvement service business to Service.com for $60 million.

Sears has suffered for years, as U.S. consumers increasingly turned their backs on brick-and-mortar stores. But the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retail giant, a mainstay of American malls for decades, failed to ride the online-shopping trend.

On Oct. 15, Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a last-ditch attempt to avoid folding after years of store closures, sales declines and borrowing. At the time of the filing, Sears had just under 700 stores and planned to shut down 142 unprofitable stores. In November, it announced it was closing another 40 stores.

Lampert entered the picture in 2005. The hedge-fund investor pushed Kmart, which he’d bought out of bankruptcy two years earlier, to acquire Sears for $11 billion and then merged the two. 

He later resigned as CEO but remains chairman, while propping up the company for years with round after round of debt financing. Lampert has faced criticism for lacking a clear-cut turnaround strategy. 

 

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