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Lampert offers secondary plan for Sears salvation

Sears Holdings Chairman has bank-up plan in case $4.4 billion buyout is rejected.

BY Marianne Wilson

The chairman of Sears Holdings Corp. has a bank-up plan for his company in case his $4.4 billion buyout offer is rejected.

On Dec. 28, Transform Holdco LLC, an affiliate of Lampert’s ESL Investments hedge fund, submitted a last-minute bid for substantially all of the assets of Sears, including a portfolio of 425 stores, which it valued at $4.4 billion. The bid doesn’t guarantee that Sears will avoid liquidation. The company and its advisers must determine by Jan. 4 whether the bid is qualified and can move on to the bankruptcy auction on Jan. 14.

In addition to the primary bid, Lampert has submitted a smaller or “alternative” bid proposal, valued at $250 million, that would keep at least 250 stores open and also buy a few other pieces of Sears, CNBC reported. The rest of the company would likely be liquidated.

In addition, the back-up plan includes certain real estate assets. The real estate component was detailed in a letter to JLL, reported WWD, and included in the filing. In the letter, ESL indicates it would be willing to pay up to $1.81 billion for certain assets, including some ground leases.

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