Sears chairman Eddie Lampert makes $4.6bn offer for troubled US department store

Alexandra Rogers
Follow Alexandra
Sears Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection
Sears filed for bankruptcy in October (Source: Getty)

Struggling department store Sears has received an offer from chairman Eddie Lampert's ESL Investments to buy the US retailer for $4.6bn (£3.6bn).

Reuters reported that Lampert’s offer calls for about 500 Sears stores to remain open and would keep 50,000 of the retailer’s workers employed.

According to Reuters, hedge fund ESL, which is Sears' largest shareholder and creditor, proposes to raise up to $1.7bn in cash partly through Sears seeking a new loan backed by collateral and issuing new notes.

It would also let go of $1.8bn Sears owes it in exchange for the company’s assets, and ESL would also assume $1.1bn in existing Sears liabilities, such as gift cards.

The US company, which is 125 years old, filed for bankruptcy in October, losing a fight for survival in a fresh sign of the tough retail conditions hitting high street giants.

In the 1970s rising competition from lower-priced such as Walmart hurt Sears’ market dominance in the US, but the recent emergence of disruptors such as Amazon has dealt a more lethal blow in the last several years.

The company has been burning through cash in the last decade, with more than half of the store’s outlets closing as costs weigh on the firm’s balance sheet while a growing number of shoppers move online.

ESL has positioned itself to bid for Sears since it ran into trouble in October.

A Sears Holdings spokesperson declined to comment.