Will Sears survive or be forced to liquidate?
That was the $4.6 billion question on everyone’s mind the last Friday of 2018 as the 126-year-old retailer neared its do-or-die deadline. The cut-off — at 4 p.m. ET Dec. 28 to be exact — was the time limit the courts set for Sears Holding Corp. to secure a buyer following its Oct. 15 bankruptcy.
The sale would include about 500 stores operating under the Sears and Kmart nameplates, other valuable real estate, such as the company headquarters, distribution locations, Sears Auto Centers and Sears Home Services businesses, and the Kenmore appliance and DieHard tool brands. It would also keep many Sears and Kmart stores open and save tens of thousands of jobs. A bid, any bid, would in effect be a get-out-of-bankruptcy card for Sears. The alternative: liquidate and sell the company in pieces. But the prospects were bleak from the start. In fact, the only bid was actually a proposal, made by Sears chairman Eddie Lampert through his hedge fund ESL Investments. Lampert offered $4.6 billion for the company and all its assets, which included the inventory and receivables. Kmart chairman Edward Lampert listens during a news conference to announce the merger