Nation & World

Lampert wins auction for Sears

His bid was valued at $5.2 billion

Bloomberg
Bloomberg
/

Eddie Lampert’s winning bid to salvage Sears Holdings Corp. valued the bankrupt retailer at $5.2 billion, according to a statement.

The hearing to approve the sale to Lampert’s ESL Investments Inc. is scheduled for Feb. 1, Sears said.

Provided the closing conditions are satisfied, the transaction is expected to close on or about Feb 8.

“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 for the Sears board said in the release.

“Importantly, the consummation of the transaction would preserve employment for tens of thousands of associates, as well as the relationships with many vendors and suppliers who provide Sears with goods and services.”

Sears disclosed no information about whether the bid releases Lampert from legal liability over previous deals he did with the company.

Creditors have said that the investor’s earlier bailout transactions unfairly benefited him, and they have threatened legal action. Lampert has said the deals were properly crafted and kept the chain alive.

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Lampert’s offer, made through his ESL Investments hedge fund, prevailed over competing proposals from liquidators that would have forced the 126-year-old department-store chain to shut down and sell its assets.

The agreement, reached after two days of negotiations in New York, still needs to be approved by the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the case. A court hearing in the Sears bankruptcy case is scheduled for Friday in White Plains, N.Y.

ESL is Sears’s biggest shareholder and creditor. Lampert now faces the challenge of returning a slimmed-down version of the company to profitability after billions of losses under his management.

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