Sears and, by extension, its local outpost at Hastings Ranch Plaza, has dodged another bullet.
Sears chairman Edward Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments, has prevailed over competing proposals in a bankruptcy auction that began Jan. 14, according to media reports.
Lampert’s bidding competitors are after control of Sears Holdings so as to sell off its assets.
On Jan. 9, the venerable retailer asked a bankruptcy judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for permission to sell off its assets after rejecting a bid by Lampert.
Later that same day, the company agreed to consider a revised bid from Lampert, who posted a $120 million deposit to keep the process open. In addition to being the chairman of Sears Holdings, Lampert is also its largest shareholder.
ESL’s bid is reportedly $5 billion and worth $150 million more than the bid which fell short in early January.
According to a Jan. 16 report by Bloomberg News, the deal was worked out in the wee hours of the morning and does not include Lampert’s condition that he be protected from lawsuits over his earlier turnaround efforts made on behalf of the Chicago-based retailer.
Other parties to the auction have eight days to challenge the agreement between ESL Investments and Sears Holdings. Certain of Sears’ creditors may oppose the deal, which is subject to the presiding bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain’s approval.
Approval obtained, the matter of making Sears viable must still be worked out.
On Dec. 28, the company announced the closing of 80 stores “to accelerate its strategic transformation and facilitate its financial restructuring.” California did not go unimpacted as stores in Stockton, Apple Valley, Burbank, Santa Maria and Auburn were marked for extinction.
The present bid reportedly entails keeping 425 Sears stores open, but any survival strategy is likely to involve some closings and those closings may include Sears Hastings Ranch Plaza.
Sears Holdings did not respond to a request for comment.