Sears could finally be nearing bankruptcy after years of decline

Sears could finally be nearing bankruptcy after years of decline

Sears could finally be nearing bankruptcy after years of decline

Lampert - Sears' largest shareholder and creditor and the owner of the hedge-fund ESL Investments - asked creditors last month to refinance $1.1 billion in debt before the October 15 payment, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lampert, who for weeks has been pushing a debt restructuring proposal that would avoid a Chapter 11 filing, is now focused on a deal that would preserve stakeholders' value in a court restructuring, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Sears wants to reduce its debt load by 80%, hoping creditors will bite at the chance to make a deal while the company is still a going concern.

Sears shares are down 35 percent this morning and trading at 38 cents a share.

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It hired boutique advisory firm M-III Partners LLC, the Wall Street Journal reported late yesterday, citing people familiar with the situation it didn't identify.

"Alan brings deep experience as a director for companies that went through complex organizational change", said Sears CEO Eddie Lampert, in a statement. Seritage Growth Properties, which has master leases on 230 Sears stores, slid 4 per cent, CBL & Associates Properties lost 1.1 per cent and Pennsylvania REIT was down 0.5 per cent. But if Sears is now in touch with banks to secure the financing needed for a bankruptcy filing, as CNBC reported Wednesday morning, that could send the surest signal yet that such a move may not be far off.

Representatives from Sears didn't immediately return requests for comment.

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But the retail landscape is littered with out-of-business brands that tried to reorganize in the bankruptcy process and liquidated their businesses instead. When Toys "R" Us, the largest specialty toy retailer, filed for bankruptcy protection last September, it sought to emerge from it after restructuring its debt and shutting stores. But it has struggled to reinvent itself in the face of online competition from companies such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), as well as from other brick-and-mortar retailers, including Walmart Inc(WMT.N). But even as Sears appears to near its "inevitable conclusion", Perkins said its final demise will set a precedent for an iconic American brand that fell from the height of retail dominance.

In July, Sears closed its last store in Chicago, once its hometown.

The company has taken a number of steps in recent days to prepare for a filing.

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