Sears chairman’s hedge fund wins company’s bankruptcy court auction

Sears bankruptcy
The hedge fund owned by Sears chairman Eddie Lampert will pay $5.2 billion to purchase a portion of the company including 425 stores. (Pat Benic/UPI photo)

CHICAGO (UPI) — Sears Holdings said Thursday that ESL Investments, the hedge fund owned by its chairman and largest investor, won the company’s bankruptcy auction.

Eddie Lampert’s investment firm will pay $5.2 billion for substantially all of Sears’ remaining assets, including 425 stores, its Home Services business, and the Kenmore and DieHard brands, if approved by the court.

“We are pleased to have reached a deal that would provide a path for Sears to emerge from the Chapter 11 process,” the board’s restructuring committee said.

Sears added the deal will save 45,000 jobs and that some severance costs gathered during the bankruptcy process will be paid through the deal.

Extended warranties on items purchased with the store will also be honored through the deal.

“At every stage in this process, ESL has worked tirelessly to help Sears re-emerge from bankruptcy, including by enhancing our offer several times, because we believe Sears has a future as a profitable company that can succeed in today’s competitive retail landscape,” ESL said in a statement.

A committee of unsecured creditors, including mall owners, accused ESL of shaping previous transactions in ways that primarily benefited itself.

The unsecured creditors have eight days to object to ESL’s bid and Sears will have two business days to respond.

The bankruptcy judge overseeing the case, Judge Robert Drain, will examine the validity of any objections at a hearing on Feb. 1.

Reporting by Daniel Uria

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