Eddie Lampert sweetens bid for Sears
Sears Holdings Corp. has been given an eleventh hour lifeline.
Sears chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a revised takeover bid of more than $5 billion for the embattled company, according to a regulatory filing made on Thursday. Similar to Lampert’s earlier bid of $4.4 billion, the new offer was made through an affiliate of his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc. It assumes $663 million in liabilities, including taxes, vendor bills and other expenses Sears has incurred since filing for bankruptcy protection last October. The addition of up to $139 million in administrative priority claims would seem to resolve one of the key sticking points of Lampert’s rejected $4.4 billion offer. One of the main points of contention in the negotiations between Lampert and Sears was whether Lampert’s bid fully addressed the bankruptcy costs that Sears has racked up.
Similar to the first offer, the new one aims to preserve up to 50,000 jobs.
If Sears considers the new offer as viable, ESL will be able to participate in an auction set for Jan. 14 against other bidders. Sears is expected to receive other bids for some store leases and other assets, but Lampert’s bid is likely to be the only one that would keep the retailer maintaining operations.
In a final step, any offer will need to be approved by the bankruptcy court in a hearing scheduled for Jan. 31, reported CNBC. The bankruptcy judge will also have to eventually sign off on a credit bid, should Lampert rely on one, the report said.
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