ESL Investments Officially Named as Winning Bidder in Sears’ Bankruptcy Auction

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.—Sears Holdings announced Thursday that ESL Investments Inc. was selected as the winning bidder in the company's court-supervised auction earlier this week. ESL will acquire substantially all of the company's assets, including the “go-forward stores," on a going-concern basis for approximately $5.2 billion, subject to the New York bankruptcy court’s approval, according to the announcement. ESL Investments is the hedge fund controlled by Sears chairman Edward Lampert. The $5.2 billion bid covers “the acquisition of substantially all of the company's assets,” which reportedly includes about 425 stores.

The consummation of the deal would preserve 45,000 jobs, the announcement stated. A hearing to approve the sale to ESL Investments is scheduled for Feb. 1. Provided the closing conditions are satisfied, the transaction is expected to close on or about Feb. 8, the Sears Holdings announcement stated.

“We are pleased to have reached a deal that would provide a path for Sears to emerge from the Chapter 11 process,” a committee representing Sears’ board of directors said in the announcement. “Importantly, the consummation of the transaction would preserve employment for tens of thousands of associates, as well as the relationships with many vendors and suppliers who provide Sears with goods and services. We would like to thank our dedicated associates, vendors and partners for their continued support through this process."

Via leased departments, Sears is among the larger optical retailers in the U.S. Luxottica is the primary operator of the Sears optical departments and currently has 199 optical locations within Sears’ stores.

A Luxottica spokesperson told VMAIL, “We are pleased by the news that a bid to keep Sears Holdings in business was accepted by the court. We are very proud of the Sears Optical brand and the hard work of our associates and doctors over the years. Our locations will continue to provide the same outstanding service to our customers.”

According to news reports, the most significant remaining hurdle around the deal is whether Sears' unsecured creditors will reverse their opposition to the ESL bid. The unsecured creditors have eight days in which to file a formal objection.

Additional information about the Sears’ restructuring is available on the company’s restructuring website at www.restructuring.searsholdings.com. For court filings and other documents related to the court-supervised process, visit the website http://restructuring.primeclerk.com/sears, call (844) 384-4460 or +1 (929) 955-2419 (for tolled international calls), or send an email to searsinfo@primeclerk.com.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges is serving as legal counsel, M-III Partners is serving as restructuring advisor and Lazard Freres & Co. is serving as investment banker to Sears Holdings, according to Thursday’s announcement.