- Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
- Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert has another chance to save the company from total liquidation.
- Lampert’s $4.4 billion takeover bid will be assessed against competing parties’ bids at an auction scheduled for Monday, a judge said during a hearing in New York on Tuesday.
- For his bid to stay alive, Lampert must provide Sears with a $120 million deposit by Wednesday.
Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert has one last chance to save the company from total liquidation.
Lampert’s $4.4 billion takeover bid will be assessed against competing parties’ bids at an auction scheduled for Monday, a US bankruptcy judge said in court on Tuesday.
The auction “will involve the debtors and their key consulting parties evaluating not only ESL’s [proposal] but all their alternatives,” Judge Robert Drain said, referring to ESL Investments, Lampert’s hedge fund.
Drain noted Sears’ size and the fact that the company “affects a lot of people,” and said ESL’s proposal may enable Sears to “survive as a going concern.” Sears had 687 stores and about 68,000 employees when it filed for bankruptcy protection in mid-October.
Sears appeared prepared to pursue liquidation on Tuesday after rejecting Lampert’s bid, which was submitted last month through an affiliate of his hedge fund.
But last-minute negotiations that twice delayed Tuesday’s hearing by several hours led to the deal that gave Lampert another opportunity to compete for Sears’ assets.
For his bid to stay alive, Lampert must provide the company with a $120 million deposit by Wednesday.
Lampert’s bid would keep about 425 stores open and save the jobs of about 50,000 workers, according to ESL.
“As we have said before, our proposal provides substantially more value to stakeholders than would be the case in liquidation and is the only option to save an iconic American retailer and up to 50,000 jobs,” an ESL spokesman said Tuesday. “We believe in Sears and will continue to do everything we can to ensure that it has a profitable future.”