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Sears chairman Eddie Lampert submits bid to buy bankrupt chain

BY Marianne Wilson

The drawn-out saga of embattled Sears Holdings Corp. may have entered its final chapter.

In a move to save the bankrupt retailer, ESL Investments, the hedge fund run by Sears chairman Eddie Lampert, submitted a $4.6 billion bid on Thursday to purchase its remaining stores, which total about 500, headquarters, distribution locations, as well as Sears brands Kenmore and DieHard. (Sears filed for bankruptcy in October.)

The acquisition would be via a newly-formed company, called Newco. The offer includes up to $950 million in cash through an asset-based loan facility, a credit bid of about $1.8 billion, $500 million in Newco notes, cash, and/or waiver or assignment of deficiency claims, rollover of about $271 million in cash collateral from the LC Facility. It also includes the assumption of about $1.1 billion in assumed liabilities that include gift cards and points from Sears’ loyalty program.

ESL submitted its bid in a letter to Lazard Frères & Co., the investment banker for Sears debtors. In the letter, ESL wrote that its proposed business plan “envisages significant strategic initiatives and investments in a right-sized network of large format and small retail stores, digital assets and interdependent operating businesses.”

“ESL believes that a future for Sears as a going concern is the only way to preserve tens of thousands of jobs and bring continued economic benefits to the many communities across the United States that are touched by Sears and Kmart stores,” ESL stated. “We are prepared to move as quickly as possible,”

The bid assumes that about 50,000 employees would continue working for the company and a reinstatement of the severance program. Sears filed for bankruptcy in October.

“As always, we remain enthusiastic about the continuation of Sears as a going concern and its future potential,” ESL wrote.

CNBC reported that a “stalking horse bidder” will be named on Dec. 15 in bankruptcy court. That bidder will set the floor for other potential offers.

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C.Kasabian says:
Dec-08-2018 08:56 am

I hope this works. Sears has been around to long to let it go. I know its expensive but the Sears Catalog was always a huge part of Sears. Bring it back.

G.Watters says:
Dec-06-2018 07:28 pm

OMG, does anyone not believe that this was all part of a master plan?Seriuosly, Eddie the destroyer is now Eddie the saviour? Go back to his early Sears Canada involvement, quite a predictable pattern.

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Measure to ban cashless stores advances in New Jersey

BY Marianne Wilson

Some lawmakers in New Jersey want to ban stores that refuse to accept cash.

A measure that would require all brick-and-mortar retailers to accept cash was unanimously approved by the N.J. Senate Commerce Committee and will now go before the full state Senate. The bill, which was overwhelming approved by the state Assembly in June, excludes retailers inside airports from the cash requirement, and also excludes sales made online and by telephone or mail. New York City and Philadelphia are also reportedly considering banning cashless stores.

Under the N.J. bill, businesses would receive a $2,500 fine for a first offense, and $5,000 for a second. Subsequent violations would fall under the consumer fraud act, which can carry penalties of up to $20,000.

Critics of stores that don’t accept cash say such businesses effectively discriminate against poor customers who might have credit cards or even bank accounts and older consumers who are wary about using credit cards or mobile commerce.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Amazon and some other major retailers have raised concerns about the legislation. Amazon operates a cashless Amazon Books store at Garden State Plaza mall, in Paramus, N.J.

Only one state — Massachusetts— has a law banning cashless stores.

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Done deal: TravelCenters exits C-store business

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

TravelCenters of America has officially sold its freestanding convenience stores.

The company has sold its Minit Mart convenience store business to EG Group, a privately held convenience store retailer based in the United Kingdom, for approximately $330.8 million. (The Minit Mart stores have been a part of TravelCenters’ portfolio for about five years.)

The deal includes 225 standalone convenience stores, one standalone restaurant, five parcels of land and certain related assets. The company initially announced the sale agreement in September.

The estimated net proceeds of $321.4 million after transaction related costs are expected to be used to reduce the company’s future rent and/or interest payment obligations, according to the company.

“This strategic divestment is a significant step in support of TA’s strategy to be a more focused leader in the travel center industry,” said Andrew J. Rebholz, TravelCenters’ CEO. “The sale of the convenience stores business will allow us to address the company’s leverage, focus more on our core travel centers business and thoughtfully pursue our growth programs.”

TravelCenters of America operates in 43 states and in Canada, and has standalone restaurants in 13 states.

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