Sears reaches deal to stay in business, for now

End may be near for iconic retailers Sears Kmart

End may be near for iconic retailers Sears Kmart

Lampert, who retains the title of chairman, and his ESL own just under half of the Hoffman Estates, Illinois, company, according to FactSet.

Sears had until Friday, Jan. 4, to accept the bid, but the deadline came and went without any update from Sears about its status.

For Sears Holdings, it appears the end is at hand. The deal could keep 425 of the stores open. An auction to sell Sears Holdings' remaining assets is scheduled for January 14.

Under Lampert, Sears has bought time over the years by spinning off stores and putting on the block the brands that had grown synonymous with the company, such as Craftsman.

Sears' agreement to reconsider Lampert's offer tables for now controversies that pushed the retailer to the brink.

Always a long-shot, Lampert's offer fell short of advisors' expectations, and though ESL intends to protest the decision, the future of the company's remaining 400 retail locations - and the firm's 68,000 employees - is grim. The 126-year-old company, whose closure would be among the most high-profile retail bankruptcies in recent years, struggled to convince suppliers to keep shipping it merchandise by touting the $300 million in financing it has secured in November so that its business could operate through the holidays.

In addition, Lampert wanted a release from legal exposure related to a series of transactions he completed with the retailer before it filed for bankruptcy protection.

Once the largest retailer in the United States, Sears failed to adapt to changes in consumer spending behavior, particularly the rapid shift to online shopping and the ascent of Amazon, whose e-commerce platform is often compared to the once-ubiquitous Sears mail-order catalog. The deals, which Lampert maintains were proper, helped make him the company's largest creditor, in addition to its biggest shareholder.

The creditors have argued that forgiveness of his debt should not be accepted as part of the bid, because Lampert loaned Sears the money when he was CEO.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday.

It hasn't had a profitable year since 2010, and it has lost $12 billion since then. The retailer plans to announce its liquidation Tuesday morning, the sources added.

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