Sears is borrowing more money from CEO Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund to stay afloat.
The company announced Thursday that it obtained a loan called a secured standby letter of credit for an initial $200 million, with the option to expand the amount to $500 million.
This particular kind of loan comes with a guarantee on behalf of the lenders that Sears’ suppliers will be paid, should the company default on its debt.
The loan is being provided by JPP, LLC and JPP II, LLC, which are affiliates of Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments. Citibank is serving as administrative agent and issuing bank.
Sears’ shares surged by as much as 6% Thursday morning to $8.64 after closing at a 52-week low on Wednesday following Business Insider’s report that the company was planning to close more stores.
It’s not a good sign that the company is seeking financing at the end of the holiday season, however, when retailers are typically flush with cash.
In a statement on the loan, Sears CFO Jason Hollar said: “As Sears Holdings has consistently shown, we will take actions to adjust our capital structure, generate liquidity, and manage our business to enable us to execute on our transformation while meeting all of our financial obligations. This new standby letter of credit facility further demonstrates that Sears Holdings has numerous options to finance our business strategy.”
Over the past two years, Lampert and his hedge fund have loaned Sears more than $800 million – not including this most recent cash infusion – to keep the business in operation.
In the most recent quarter, Sears’ revenue fell by 13% to $5 billion and losses widened to $748 million from $454 million in the period last year.
Same-store sales dropped 7.4%, including a 10% decrease at Sears stores and a 4.4% decrease at Kmart stores.