Sears Is Hammering Out Deal to Stay Open in Bankruptcy

(Bloomberg) -- Negotiations over the fate of Sears Holdings Corp. are focused on hashing out a plan that would keep some stores open through at least Christmas, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Discussions aim to restructure the company as a smaller Sears that could stay in business over the long term, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential matters. The talks with lenders envision using the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, with Sears filing for court protection on Sunday at the earliest, said the people. Negotiators are discussing a loan of about $300 million to $500 million, the people said.

The exact number of Sears stores that would remain open hasn’t been finalized, the person said. Reuters reported that Sears is planning to close up to 150 of 700 outlets. Almost 90,000 jobs are at stake, according to Sears filings earlier this year. Talks are still in progress and the terms of any deal could still change, the people said.

A representative for Sears, which is based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. CNBC reported the loan and negotiations earlier, and the Wall Street Journal earlier reported that some lenders were pushing for liquidation.

The department-store chain once ranked as the biggest U.S. retailer, with a reputation built on its money-back guarantee of customer satisfaction. But it wasn’t able to keep up with shifting consumer habits as online rivals siphoned off shoppers, and turnaround efforts were hobbled by mountains of debt.

Since 2012, losses at Sears have piled up, and multiple efforts to steady the company by Chief Executive Officer Eddie Lampert -- sometimes with his own money -- have failed to restore its fortunes.

Read More: Photo Timeline of the Rise and Fall of American Icon Sears

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.