The fund run by Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert, ESL Investments, submitted a $4.6 billion proposal on Thursday to help save the bankrupt retailer with the purchase of 500 stores. Sears Holdings, which owns Sears department stores and Kmart, filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 15. In previous court filings, it has said it was in talks with ESL about a “going concern bid” that could help the company emerge from bankruptcy. Should the offer be approved, it would help about 50,000 of Sears’ 68,000 employees retain their jobs, ESL said. The new company would reinstate the severance program it had in place prior to Sears’ bankruptcy filing. ESL will need support from its creditors and approval from the bankruptcy court to proceed with its offer.
Total Retail's Take: At this point it feels like this isn't business for Lampert anymore, it's personal. The hedge fund executive staked his reputation on the success of Sears, and he isn't giving up on the business just yet. While you have to admire Lampert's dedication and commitment to Sears, you also have to question his logic. The retailer continues to lose money — a new report from the Chicago Tribune reveals that Sears Holdings Corp. will bleed hundreds of millions of dollars more than it expected over the coming weeks — and has not seen a bump in sales from the strong start to the holiday shopping season. While many analysts are saying there's no reasonable path for Sears other than liquidation, Lampert is not willing to go down without a fight. In the end, it's likely to cost him a lot of money.