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Exclusive: Sears Chairman Lampert submits new roughly $5 billion bid for retailer - sources

Exclusive: Sears Chairman Lampert submits new roughly $5 billion bid for retailer - sources
FILE PHOTO: A dismantled sign sits leaning outside a Sears department store one day after it closed as part of multiple store closures by Sears Holdings Corp in the United States in Nanuet, New York, U.S., January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo -
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Mike Segar(Reuters)
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By Jessica DiNapoli and Mike Spector

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sears Holding Corp <SHLDQ.PK> Chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a revised roughly $5 billion (3.9-billion pound) takeover bid for the company on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said, boosting the chances that the U.S. department store operator will escape liquidation.

In a concession, Lampert agreed to assume tax and vendor bills Sears has incurred since filing for bankruptcy protection in October, the sources said. His revised bid was submitted through an affiliate of his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc, on Wednesday afternoon along with a $120 million deposit, the sources added.

Lampert's previous bid, which Sears had rejected, was valued at $4.4 billion.

The new bid, which Sears will consider during a Jan. 14 bankruptcy auction, proposes assuming roughly $300 million of tax and merchandise expenses the company has racked up since its Oct. 15 bankruptcy filing, the sources said. It would also preserve up to 50,000 jobs, the sources added. Sears employed about 68,000 people when it filed for bankruptcy.

Ensuring Sears can pay its expenses, which include bills for legal and financial advisors and are known as administrative claims, was a main point of contention as the company negotiated the deal with Lampert.

Lampert's previous bid had proposed acquiring 425 Sears stores.

The sources asked not to be identified because the details of Lampert's new bid are not yet public.

Sears and ESL declined to comment.

(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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