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Sears chairman prevails in bankruptcy auction for retailer with $5.2 billion bid - sources

Sears chairman prevails in bankruptcy auction for retailer with $5.2 billion bid - sources
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By Mike Spector and Jessica DiNapoli

NEWYORK (Reuters) – Sears Holdings Corp <SHLDQ.PK> Chairman Eddie Lampert prevailed in a bankruptcy auction for the U.S. department store chain with an improved takeover bid of roughly $5.2 billion (4.04 billion pounds), allowing the 126-year-old retailer to keep its doors open, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Lampert’s bid, boosted from an earlier $5 billion offer, prevailed after weeks of back-and-forth deliberations that culminated in a days-long bankruptcy auction held behind closed doors. The billionaire proposal, made through his hedge fund ESL Investments Inc, will save up to 45,000 jobs and keep 425 stores open across the United States.

Lampert boosted his bid by adding more cash and assuming more liabilities, the sources said. The auction, held at the Manhattan offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, the law firm representing Sears, concluded in the early morning hours of Wednesday.

There remains a chance the deal could fall apart, as it still must be documented and approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge. A hearing is expected to be scheduled for later this week.

A group of creditors is objecting to the deal, one of the sources said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Spokespeople for Sears and ESL did not immediately return requests for comment.

(Reporting by Mike Spector and Jessica DiNapoli in New York, editing by Louise Heavens)

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