In an effort that could help preserve 425 locations and the jobs of up to 50,000 workers, Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Eddie Lampert made a takeover bid of $4.4 billion for the company. The bid was placed by Transform Holdco LLC, an affiliate of the ESL Investments hedge fund, Reuters reported.
According to a spokesperson for ESL: “Factoring for all considerations, we believe that our going concern bid provides the best path forward for the company, the best option to save tens of thousands of jobs, and is superior for all of Sears’ stakeholders to the alternative of a complete liquidation. Much work remains and there is no assurance our proposal will be completed.”
Lampert's bid was partly backed by funding from multiple financial institutions. According to unnamed sources cited by the outlet, the institutions are said to have agreed to a revolving credit line of $350 million and an asset-backed loan of $950 million.
In addition, Reuters reported that the bid taps into financing of approximately $400 million by non-bank lenders and $1.8 billion of Sears debt that ESL intends to forgive. It also reportedly considers taking on Sears’ protection agreements for big-ticket items like lawn tractors and televisions.
According to an Associated Press report, ESL noted that it believes the retailer would come out of bankruptcy if the bid is accepted. Over time, ESL’s Lampert has offered up Sears' brands like Craftsman, as well as spun-off businesses, to buy time for the retailer. In addition, the executive has made deals and loans in an effort to help the retailer stay alive and bring in any possible profits for ESL.
The retailer, which was once the biggest department store chain in the country, started in the 1880s as a mail-order catalog. According to Reuters, the company has been brought down by online and offline competitors, as well as the Great Recession. Sears had 68,000 workers and 687 locations at the time of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in October.