Sears hires advisers for bankruptcy filing

Sears store in Garden City NY. REUTERS  Shannon StapletonMore

Kopsky credited Sears' plunging share price to Wall Street pricing in an upcoming bankruptcy. The company thinks it found a director who can help do the trick.

The company has taken a number of steps in recent days to prepare for a filing.

Eddie Lampert, a hedge-fund manager who took over as Sears CEO in 2013, said in late September that despite changes in the way it does business, the future looked bleak for the once vibrant company.

Lampert - Sears' largest shareholder and creditor, as well as owner of the hedge-fund ESL Investments - asked creditors last month to refinance $1.1 billion in debt before the October 15 payment, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company's already battered stock dropped another 17% on Wednesday, to 49 cents apiece, and Sears bonds were also under pressure. Lampert and ESL are the company's two largest shareholders. For example, he recently offered to buy its Kenmore appliance brand for $400 million. LLC Managing Director Jim Awad on the demise of Sears.

Sears stock, which once traded at more than $100 a share, is down to 40 cents a share.

Sears appointed a restructuring expert, Alan Carr, to its board on Tuesday. The company is also talking to lenders about providing it with debtor-in-possession financing, CNBC reported. In May, shares got a short-lived boost following news that Sears was partnering with Amazon to provide automotive services to Amazon customers at Sears locations, as Business Insider reported.

But many flailing retailers have tried that tactic before and failed (see: Toys "R" Us).

A department store chain that was once America's largest retailer is preparing for bankruptcy. But its declines goes back decades, well before the growth of online shopping that threatens traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. Sears wants to reduce its debt load by 80%, hoping creditors will bite at the chance to make a deal while the company is still a going concern. A long series of store closings has left it with fewer than 900 today. The retailer closed its last Sears store in Chicago in July and has announced plans to close another 46 stores by November, including a Kmart in Steger and a Sears in Bloomington.

Sears has closed almost 400 stores since previous year. It has lost $11.7 billion since 2010, its last profitable year. That's down from 317,000 United States employees in early 2006, soon after the merger.



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