Sears Holdings is on the brink of stepping in for bankruptcy financing. After staying in business for 125 years, the company is all set to close a crucial chapter in its long-and-storied history.
Roebuck and Co. also known as Sears holds its roots in 1893, but over the last few decades, the company had been facing a slow and long fall. After merging with Kmart in 2004, Sears had combined more than 3,500 stores and nearly 355,000 employees in 2006.
At the beginning of 2018, Sears’ workforce totalized to less than 90,000 across fewer than 900 shops. Once close to $200 a share in April 2007, the company’s stock fell below $1 a share last month.
Eddie Lampert, CEO of Sears Holdings Corp, has intervened to fund a financing package of between $500 million and $600 million that the U.S. retail giant was close to secure on Sunday to finance the bankruptcy proceedings, informed the people familiar with the matter.
Company’s largest lender and shareholder, Lampert hopes to save the company from liquidation before the prime holiday shopping season. A combined program of deal and divestments may help Sears stay afloat. Significant banks like Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp, and Wells Fargo & Co., are expected to help by funding significant shares of financing added the sources.
Speculations are being made that bankruptcy will be filed early on Monday in New York.
Keeping in mind the confidentiality of the matter and on the condition of anonymity, the sources informed that the chances of negotiation collapsing do persist.
The spokesman for the people concerned with the matter remained tight-lipped.
Once the largest retail chain of the U.S., Sears hopes to liquidate its assets like its Kenmore appliances brand, home service business, and other assets, under the court supervised auction and bankruptcy protection as well.
Setting a floor with offers that other possible buyers could then attempt to top, Lampert is also trying his hands-on bidding on the assets as a so-called stalking horse bidder.
Instead of pumping more cash in the company, Lampert can aid funds for the assets by waiving off the money that Sears owes him.
Apart from being the CEO of Sears, Lampert also runs a closed-end fund ESL Investment. He has also lent to and invested in Sears on various occasion over the years, accrediting him and ESL ownership of nearly half of the company and $2.5 billion of Sears’ debt.
Sears intends to shut down nearly 150 out of its total 700 stores in malls all over the U.S. once it finishes filing for bankruptcy. It further aims to keep another 300 stores open and moving forward, whereas the remaining 250 will be kept under review. However, the effect of closures on Sears’ nearly 70,000 staffs remains unclear.
At its prime, Sears retailed everything from mail-order homes to auto parts to toys and was one of the important tenants in almost every big mall in the U.S. But recently the company was struggling to keep up in the competition with retailing giants like Amazon.com and other brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart Inc.