Lampert revises Sears bid to exceed $5B
- An affiliate company of ESL Investments, the hedge fund belonging to Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert, on Wednesday submitted a revised bid of roughly $5 billion for the company. That comes on the heels of a Tuesday court hearing, during which Sears said it would consider a new bid from ESL at a bankruptcy auction next week. ESL also made a $120 million deposit, $17.9 million of which is non-refundable.
- The revised proposal includes up to $663 million in additional liabilities, including: $166 million to pay vendors for goods ordered prior to the transaction's closing, $139 million for administrative priority claims, $43 million in additional severance costs, $180 million for costs related to contracts the buyer would assume and up to $135 million for property taxes.
- The revisions also contain measures to take on additional assets, including 57 more real estate properties and additional inventory, among other things. The proposal will terminate at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday if Sears does not confirm that it will consider the bid at an auction on Monday.
Despite creditor criticism from the get-go, numerous rejections in the weeks since and declarations from anonymous sources that Sears was careening toward liquidation, Lampert is still in the running to buy back the iconic department store chain.
"We believe our proposal will provide substantially more value to stakeholders than any other option, in particular a liquidation, and is the best path forward for Sears, its associates and the many communities across the United States touched by Sears and Kmart stores," a spokesman for ESL Investments said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive.
Next week, Sears is expected to consider the ESL bid along with several other options to liquidate the business. Negotiations are expected to evolve from there, and could go back and forth up until the next court date at the end of the month.
Keeping Lampert's bid in the mix is good news, according to David Wander, a bankruptcy partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. "It's kicking the can down the road in a good sense, because we'll at least have an auction sale instead of going right to a [going out of business] liquidation," Wander, who represents two unsecured Sears creditors, told Retail Dive in an interview on Tuesday.
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