Sears CEO Bids $470 Million for Kenmore, Home-Improvement Units

(Bloomberg) -- Edward Lampert wants to slim Sears down so it can stay standing.

Lampert, the chief executive officer of Sears as well as its largest shareholder, is proposing to use his hedge fund ESL Investments Inc. to buy the store’s Kenmore and Sears Home Improvement businesses at a valuation of around $470 million, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

“We are prepared to move as quickly as possible to complete these transactions, which is in the best interest of all parties involved,” ESL said in a emailed statement to Bloomberg News.

Lampert has been using his own money for years to keep Sears afloat as its store traffic and sales fall. The 125-year-old retailer, based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, has relied on piecemeal deals and infusions from the hedge fund manager to offset billions of dollars in losses. It’s also closed hundreds of stores and cut more than $1 billion in expenses.

The asset sales would offload some of the iconic department store’s debt and improve liquidity, Lampert said in an April letter expressing his fund’s interest. But the bid is contingent on the participation of potential partners, ESL said in Tuesday’s filing. The fund also plans to engage outside investors to solicit interest in a purchase of Sears real estate assets, it said.

Sears shares have lost value in each of the last four years. So far in 2018, the stock has declined almost 50 percent.

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