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Sears to Sell Division of Coldwell Banker : Investors Purchase Commercial Real Estate Unit

From Times Wire Services

Sears, Roebuck and Co. today announced the sale of its Coldwell Banker commercial real estate business to a management group and a group of outside investors for an undisclosed sum.

Terms were not disclosed for the sale of the nation’s largest commercial real estate company that Sears bought in December, 1981, when it was branching out into financial services. Analysts said they expected the sale to bring in about $300 million.

$460 Million in Revenue

Coldwell Banker had 1988 gross revenues of more than $460 million.

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Sears said in a statement that the sale was part of its corporate restructuring plan to strengthen its consumer operations. Sears will retain ownership of the Coldwell Banker residential real estate business and of the Coldwell Banker name.

The outside investors include Frederick V. Malek of Washington; the Carlyle Group, a Washington-based merchant banking firm, and a group of prominent U.S. and Japanese investors, Sears said in a statement. Financing is being arranged by Sumitomo Bank and Bankers Trust Co.

Employee Ownership

Sears said a substantial part of the company will be owned by its 5,000 employees, but did not specify the size.

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“The enthusiasm and commitment of our employees to participate in ownership of the company will return its ownership to an employee-based entrepreneurial direction and validates our existing strategies,” Malek said.

Largest Retail Chain

Last October, Sears said it planned to sell the commercial real estate operation. The real estate group, which was founded in 1906 in San Francisco, has offices in about 100 locations in the United States and Canada.

Chicago-based Sears also operates the nation’s largest retail chain and owns Allstate Insurance and the Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. brokerage firm.

The retail stores have undergone a face lifting, changing to everyday low prices in a bid to lure customers to Sears’ 824 retail outlets.


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