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Eddie Lampert sweetens his bid for Sears again, sources say

Eddie Lampert sweetens his bid for Sears again, sources say
A car drives through the parking lot of a Sears store in Montebello in October. The store has since shut down. (Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg)

Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Eddie Lampert presented a new bid Tuesday that included some concessions as talks to save the bankrupt retailer from liquidation continued, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

The new offer — made by ESL Investments, Lampert’s hedge fund — includes terms that are more favorable to the department store chain and its creditors, including more cash, said the people, who asked not to be named as the negotiations were confidential. The overall value of Lampert’s offer is still pegged at more than $5 billion, one of the people said.

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Parties involved in the talks are evaluating the revised proposal, and there are no assurances that a deal to keep Sears in business will be reached, the people said. The talks are part of an auction for Sears Holdings Corp. that kicked off with 12 hours of discussions Monday.

A representative for ESL didn’t provide comment. A representative for Sears declined to comment. Sears is scheduled to file a notice of the auction results with the bankruptcy court on Wednesday.

The bankruptcy auction for the retailer’s assets is taking place in the midtown Manhattan law offices of Sears’ counsel, Weil Gotshal & Manges. Participants have been hesitant to accept Lampert’s previous offer but are focused more on his proposal than on bids from liquidators, sources said Monday.

Monday’s talks were stalled by disagreements on topics including ESL’s request for release from certain claims, which would insulate Lampert from lawsuits over previous turnaround deals, said the people. The committee of unsecured creditors, the lowest-ranked creditors in the case, say they could sue Lampert for millions of dollars over deals he made during his time as Sears’ chief executive.

Lampert has repeatedly pointed to the number of jobs at stake at Sears in seeking support for his plan, making some lenders wary of being blamed for the collapse of the iconic chain if they refuse to provide funds.

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