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Sears Shares Soar As CEO Offers To Backstop Failing Retailer

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Following the liquidation of Sears Canada and an announcement earlier this year of more than 100 store closures in the US after (yet another) disastrous holiday season, Sears Holdings Corp. Chief Executive Edward Lampert is pushing for a breakup of the troubled retailer by calling on the board to divest the Kenmore appliance brand and spin off the company's home improvement services and parts business, the Wall Street Journal reported

Sears has struggled to find buyers for these assets for years, and by stepping in, Lambert, who has long kept the retailer afloat in the past by having his fund buy up its debt and some real-estate assets, among other measures, is once again stepping in to backstop the once-mighty retailer, perhaps for the last time.

Lampert, who controls Sears through his hedge fund ESL Investments Inc. and through a personal stake, wants the fund to step in and buy these businesses, as well as some of the company's valuable real-estate assets (a task that would involve assuming roughly $1.2 billion of the debt associated with the assets). According to CNBC, ESL would be prepared to close a deal for "iconic brand" Kenmore within 90 days. ESL said it valued Sears' Home Improvement and PartsDirect businesses at $500 million, and offered to pay cash for them.

"In our view, pursuing these divestitures now will demonstrate the value of Sears’ portfolio of assets, will provide an important source of liquidity to Sears and could avoid any deterioration in the value of such assets," Mr. Lampert wrote.

Sears refused to guarantee that it would assent to the deal. The company won't comment further "until it determines that additional disclosure is appropriate," according to CNBC.

Sears shares climbed in premarket trading, before retracing most of the move:

Sears

QSH_NSS-qM8

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