Retail Struggles: Lampert Bids for Sears, HMV Files for Administration

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Troubled Sears Holdings won a reprieve from liquidation when Chairman Eddie Lampert and his ESL Holdings submitted a $4.4 billion offer effort to buy the retailer. Sears creditors have until tomorrow (Jan. 4) to decide whether ESL is a qualified bidder. If the ESL is accepted as legitimate, it still must participate in an auction with liquidation bidders on Jan. 14.

Sears’ investment banker, Transform Holdco – a new entity controlled by ESL – said in an SEC filing that ESL believes that its offer is the best to recover money the retailer owes. If ESL’s offer isn’t accepted, Transform Holdco will seek to buy Sears’ assets individually, including the home services business and some IP and real estate. The latter offer includes at least 250 stores.

Great American Group has also submitted a bid with Tiger Capital Group, but details of the offer haven’t been released. Sears has 425 locations remaining after announcing last week it would close another 80 stores.

Meanwhile, HMV filed for administration (bankruptcy) in the UK late Friday for the second time in six years; KPMG has been appointed to either find a buyer or shut down the 125-store chain.

HMV’s move follows what it said were “extremely weak” holiday sales, with DVD sales in the UK down 30% from a year ago. The chain’s 125 stores in the UK remain open.

While HMV has a “profitable” ecommerce business, the company “has suffered from the ongoing wave of digital disruption sweeping across the entertainment industry,” Will Wright, a partner at KPMG, said in a statement. That is in addition to “weakening consumer confidence and rising costs” in the UK.