Sears On Brink Of Bankruptcy, Report Says

11 October, 2018, 02:48 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Sears Holdings Corp which has been losing money for years has US$134 million in debt due

Lampert is the company's biggest shareholder. When Toys "R" Us, the largest specialty toy retailer, filed for bankruptcy protection last September, it sought to emerge from it after restructuring its debt and shutting stores. Lampert bought Sears in 2004 and merged it with Kmart, in which he had a controlling stake, the next year.

"The problem in Sears case is that it is a poor retailer", said Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail, in a Tuesday research note, where he wrote that he wasn't surprised the retailer was preparing for a possible bankruptcy filing.

Business Insider reported on Wednesday that Sears' top spokesman, Chris Brathwaite, jumped ship just days ago after more than a decade working at the company.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Sears has hired an advisory firm to prepare bankruptcy filings for the retailer as early as this week, ahead of a $134 million debt payment that is due Monday. Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, offered to buy Kenmore and certain other assets earlier this year.

The Wall Street Journal quoted sources saying Lampert wants to restructure and is anxious that a bankruptcy filing will lead to a liquidation, which has happened with so many retailers, the most recent being Toys R Us. Sears' borrowings totaled $5 billion as of August 4.

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Sears and Kmart had 89,000 employees as of February 3 of this year, according to a company filing.

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retailer has posted seven straight years of losses, while its sales have not grown since the 2008 financial crisis. Sears warned it could go out of business as it waits for approval from the committee on the deal.

Lampert, who for weeks has been pushing a debt restructuring proposal that would avoid a Chapter 11 filing, is now focused on a deal that would preserve stakeholders' value in a court restructuring, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Sears, an icon of American retailing since the 19th century, has struggled to appeal to consumers in recent years, losing customers and financial strength in the process.

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