CHICAGO – Sears chairman Eddie Lampert has submitted a revised bid in a last-ditch attempt to save the retailer from liquidation. The new bid, $5 billion for the retailer through his hedge fund ESL Investments, is adding about $600 million to a prior bid that should help ESL clear bars to a buyout set by a federal bankruptcy court, Lampert’s firm said Thursday in a regulatory filing.
ESL’s sweetened bid includes as much as $166 million to pay stiffed suppliers, $139 million to cover expenses tied to the costly bankruptcy process and another $43 million for additional severance costs, the last of which was welcomed by worker advocates.
“By including severance payment, Lampert’s bid proves that retail employees’ organizing to fight for job security, severance and financial support is having a major impact on the bankruptcy process,” said United for Respect’s Rise Up Retail in statement.
Sears Holdings was headed to liquidation after ESL’s first offer was spurned, but negotiations that revolved around a court hearing on Tuesday resulted in Lampert, who remains the retail company’s biggest shareholder and chairman, getting another go.
The hedge fund then had a court-ordered deadline on Wednesday to improve its offer and come up with $120 million to participate in an auction on Monday. Assuming Lampert’s latest offer gets the green light from creditors and the bankruptcy judge, he can go up against bidders looking to buy up to 505 stores, including 266 Sears outlets and 239 Kmart stores, through the bankruptcy process.