(Reuters) – Sears Holdings Corp <SHLD.O> shares lost nearly a third of their value in early trading on Wednesday, after a report said that the beleaguered retailer had hired advisers to prepare for a bankruptcy filing ahead of a debt payment deadline.
Shares of Sears, an iconic American retail brand which traded above $100 a decade ago but have fallen to less than $1 in the past year, were down at 41 cents in trading before the bell. The Wall Street Journal late on Tuesday said Sears had hired boutique advisory firm M-III Partners LLC to help it prepare a filing before a $134 million debt payment becomes due on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Sears had no comment on the report, which also said that the company’s billionaire Chief Executive Officer Eddie Lampert, who has rescued the company in the past, could make the payment to avert an in-court restructuring.
The world’s largest retailer in the 1960s, Sears has become symbolic of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers’ struggle to compete with online stores led by Amazon.com <AMZN.O>.
The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retailer has posted seven straight years of losses, while its sales have not grown since the 2008 financial crisis.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)