Sears gets a reprieve from liquidation

Sears to ask bankruptcy judge to liquidate

ESL wanted to finance a portion of the $4.4 billion bid by trading $1.3 billion in Sears debt it holds for ownership in the new company.

"Sears Holdings Corp will ask a bankruptcy judge on Tuesday if it can proceed with liquidation after it could not reach an agreement on Chairman Edward Lampert's $4.4 billion takeover bid, casting doubt on the survival of the 126-year-old US department store", Reuters exclusively reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

One of the biggest sticking points is ESL's plan to pay for part of the deal by forgiving $1.3 billion in debt that Sears owes the hedge fund, which includes fees owed on stores sold to Seritage Growth Properties.

The 126-year-old retailer on Tuesday was set to ask a bankruptcy court's permission to proceed with a planned liquidation after rejecting a $4.4 billion takeover bid from majority investor and Chairman Eddie Lampert, according to multiple media reports.

A judge still needs to approve the agreement.

Drain said that Sears will consider Lampert's offer versus a potential liquidation during a bankruptcy auction on January 14.

Lampert's is the only bid created to keep Sears open.

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Sears has been struggling for several years with bare shelves and displays.

If Lampert succeeds in his attempt to rescue Sears from liquidation, it could save as many as 55,000 jobs - temporarily, anyway, as the firm has closed around 40 percent of its stores in the three months since filing for bankruptcy protection in October.

The revised deal was reached after days of "virtually round-the-clock negotiations", Sears attorney Ray Schrock told the court.

Lampert had submitted a bid on December 28. Lampert loaned out his own money and put together deals to keep the company going, turning whatever profit he could for his hedge fund.

Lawyers for Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, were pressing for more time to sweeten his offer.

"I remember at the beginning of summer, we'd start flipping through the catalog, having to get the penny loafers of the Mary Janes, the black and white shoes", she said.

Unsecured creditors have pushed for Sears to liquidate, partially because they contend they will realize a better financial recovery if it does. Meanwhile, Lampert also plans to present details of his offer and make the case for renewing efforts to save Sears in bankruptcy court on Tuesday.

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