Sears chairman’s takeover proposal faces moment of truth

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Negotiations between Sears Holdings Corp (SHLDQ.PK) Chairman Eddie Lampert and the bankrupt U.S. division retailer operator approached a decision late on Tuesday because the billionaire hedge fund supervisor confronted the selection of bettering his $5 billion provide for the corporate or ending his takeover plans, individuals acquainted with the matter informed Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: The Sears headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, seen on this November 17, 2004 file photograph. CPROD REUTERS/John Gress

After two days of haggling, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain set a Wednesday deadline to finish the chapter public sale for the 126-year-old retailer, the individuals mentioned. Sears was weighing Lampert’s provide towards the sum it will recoup by winding down its enterprise and promoting its property off in items.

Liquidating Sears would finish the division retailer in its present type, which means layoffs for as many as 68,000 individuals and the closure of about 500 shops.

Last week Lampert, via his hedge fund ESL Investments Inc, made an improved $5 billion provide for Sears after the corporate turned away his earlier $four.four billion bid.

But the identical points that dogged his earlier provide have been proving to be hurdles for his $5 billion proposal.

Sears believes the bid falls quick of masking the payments the retailer has racked up since submitting for chapter safety in October, the individuals mentioned. A bedrock precept of chapter instances is that these bills, referred to as administrative claims, have to be absolutely repaid.

Sears can also be pushing Lampert to supply extra money in alternate for a authorized launch that may defend him from future litigation over transactions he did with the corporate up to now, the individuals added. Lampert has mentioned the offers have been correct.

Lampert’s $5 billion provide had taken on one other $600 million-plus in liabilities, and marked $35 million for a so-called launch from litigation.

Sears declined to remark.

The chapter public sale for Sears started on Monday morning in Manhattan on the places of work of legislation agency Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, which is representing the retailer. On Tuesday, representatives for Sears and Lampert briefed Drain on the standing of the public sale, the individuals mentioned.

Drain pressed each Lampert and the corporate to proceed negotiating and to finish their discussions come what may earlier than Tuesday involves a detailed, the individuals mentioned.

Sears final week made liquidation preparations earlier than reaching a last-minute take care of Lampert that resulted in his newest bid, resulting in the public sale that commenced on Monday.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli and Mike Spector in New York; Editing by Bill Rigby

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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