ESL Seeks To Purchase 500 Sears Stores

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In an effort to save Sears, ESL Investments is looking to purchase 500 of the retailer’s stores with a $4.6 billion proposal. The retailer had been in discussions over a “going concern bid” with ESL, which is headed up by Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert, in the past, CNBC reported.

With the proposal, ESL Investments is looking to provide a $1.8 billion “credit bid,” the assumption of approximately $1.1 billion worth of liabilities and an asset-based loan facility with $950 million in cash. Those liabilities are said to include Shop Your Way loyalty program points, gift cards and Sears Home Services protection agreements.

The investment firm wrote in a letter, “ESL Investments continues to believe in Sears Holdings’ immense potential to evolve and operate profitably as a going concern with a new capitalization and organizational structure.” According to ESL, the proposal could allow roughly 50,000 Sears employees to keep their positions. Yet competition is possible for a bid, as a “stalking horse bidder” will reportedly be named in mid-December.

The news comes as unnamed sources claimed that Centerbridge Partners LP and Ace Hardware Corpmay bid on the Sears Home Services division. Bidders had until Wednesday (Dec. 5) to make their initial offers.

While the group has reportedly considered a potential bid over a period of weeks, sources told the outlet that an offer wasn’t guaranteed. But the sources did not say how much such an offer would have been from the investment firm and the retailer. Ace would not immediately reply to the outlet’s query, and a spokesperson for the investment firm would not comment.

It was also previously reported that Sears was looking at bids from liquidators as well as offers for different parts of its business, according to a letter from the retailer’s bankers in November. And, while Reuters reported that the retailer wants to have most assets sold together, it could sell parts to different buyers.

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