Sears confirms Lampert wins $5.2B bid, keeping retailer alive

By RetailFOXBusiness

Sears Holdings Chairman clears hurdle in his bid to save the retailer

FBN's Cheryl Casone on Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert winning a bankruptcy auction with his plan to save the retailer.

Sears gets another shot at life.

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The iconic retailer confirmed Thursday that its chairman Eddie Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, won the auction to acquire the company for $5.2 billion, saving it from liquidation.

"ESL Investments, Inc. was selected as the winning bidder in the Company's auction," Sears announced in a release, noting that the offer is subject to bankruptcy court approval, which is currently slated for Feb. 1, 2019.

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An independent board of Sears advisers said they are pleased to have a reached a deal and preserve the employment on more than 50,000 workers whose jobs were on the line.

In a statement to FOX Business, ESL Investment also said it's pleased with the outcome and is steadfast on its commitments to save Sears.

"At every stage in this process, ESL has worked tirelessly to help Sears re-emerge from bankruptcy, including by enhancing our offer several times, because we believe Sears has a future as a profitable company that can succeed in today's competitive retail landscape," ESL said.

The approved deal comes after weeks of back and forth between Sears and Lampert’s hedge fund, whose first bid of $4.4 billion was rejected by an independent board of advisers for the retailer, who questioned Lampert’s ability to fully fund the bid.

The rejection prompted ESL to raise its bid to $5.2 billion and put down a deposit of $120 million.

Lampert also boosted his bid by assuming more liabilities from the 126-year-old retailer, which was forced into bankruptcy in October.

However, as reported by FOX Business, many Sears employees--past and present--aren't too happy about Lampert's win.

"Eddie Lampert didn't save Sears, he ran it into the ground. No one thinks their job is safe under his leadership," Lily Wang, deputy director of United for Respect's Rise Up Retail said in a statement to FOX Business.

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What’s more, many of Sears’ unsecured creditors, including landlords and suppliers, are against the deal, claiming it only benefits Lampert and his hedge fund.  Many of them are still pushing for a liquidation instead.

Still, Lampert’s offer is the only option that could save up to 45,000 jobs and keep Sears’ brand and stores alive.