Lampert wins Sears bankruptcy auction with $5.2 bln bid
(Updates with creditors opposing the sale in paragraphs five
Jan 17 (Reuters) - Sears Holdings Corp Chairman
Eddie Lampert won a bankruptcy auction to buy the once iconic
U.S. retailer after presenting an improved offer of $5.2
billion, Sears said on Thursday, but creditors quickly moved to
oppose the deal.
Sears picked Lampert's hedge fund ESL Investments Inc as the
winner at a bankruptcy court-supervised auction after his latest
bid topped an earlier $5 billion proposal following weeks of
The deal would keep open more than 400 stores, preserve up
to 45,000 jobs and ESL would acquire substantially all of the
company, including its "Go Forward Stores" on a going-concern
basis, Sears said.
"We are pleased to have reached a deal that would provide a
path for Sears to emerge from the chapter 11 process," the
restructuring committee of Sears' board of directors said in a
The official committee of unsecured creditors said in a
court filing it opposed the sale and asked court permission to
file under seal a complaint against ESL for years of misconduct.
"ESL’s current bid to 'save the company' is nothing but the
final fulfillment of a years-long scheme to deprive Sears and
its creditors of assets and its employees of jobs while lining
Lampert’s and ESL’s own pockets," the committee said.
The committee said it wanted to disallow the debt that ESL
used to bid for Sears and wanted to unwind deals from recent
years that the committee said benefited Lampert, including the
sale of real estate assets and the spin-off of Lands' End.
ESL said in a statement it would "vigorously contest" any
effort to pursue claims against it or Lampert. The fund said it
had extended $2.4 billion to Sears for its transformation plan
and its deals were approved by the board's independent
A Sears spokesman declined to comment.
The sale to ESL must be approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge
and a hearing to consider the deal is currently scheduled for
Feb. 1. If approved, the transaction is expected to close on or
about Feb. 8, Sears said.
More than 20 U.S. retailers have filed for bankruptcy since
the start of 2017 in the face of e-commerce competition from
companies like Amazon.com Inc.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai
Sachin Ravikumar and Cynthia Osterman)
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