It is still possible that those wishing to shutdown the company will bid more for the assets than Lampert is offering.
The 126-year-old retailer on Tuesday was set to ask a bankruptcy court's permission to proceed with a planned liquidation after rejecting a $4.4 billion takeover bid from majority investor and Chairman Eddie Lampert, according to multiple media reports.
But the deadline passed without any word from Sears on the status of the bid. Store closings continued throughout 2017 and 2018, with Sears Holdings declaring bankruptcy in mid-October 2018. Were Sears to liquidate its assets, it would become one of the most high-profile victims in the wave of bankruptcies that has swept the retail sector in the last few years, as the explosion in online shopping exacerbates the fierce price competition facing brick-and-mortar stores.
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Sears' bankruptcy, which includes discount chain Kmart, followed a decade of revenue declines, hundreds of store closures, and years of deals by billionaire Lampert in an attempt to turn around the company he put together in 2005 through an $11 billion deal.
The deal was reached after days of "virtually round-the-clock negotiations", Sears attorney Ray Schrock told the court. Transform Holdco, a new entity controlled by ESL, said in a letter to Sears' investment banker that it believes keeping the Hoffman Estates-based retailer in business is the best way to preserve jobs and recover money the retailer owes. Even as Sears' brick and mortar competitors established effective e-commerce operations Sears - a pioneer in catalog sales - failed to do so. The retailer plans to announce its liquidation Tuesday morning, the sources added.
While current Sears shareholders have lost almost all their investment and creditors that include the USA government are owed $11 billion, Lampert has pocketed nearly $1.4 billion to date from his investment in the retailer, calculated Institutional Investor in a recent story.