Sears gets a reprieve from liquidation

New York City. If the bankrupt retail chain does not accept the only bid to save it it could be forced to start the process of shutting down as soon

The offer from Lambert is $4.4 billion, however it does not complete the sale.

It gives Sears a chance to survive, which appeared to be slipping way heading into the hearing.

The Sears board rejected Lampert's $4.4 billion bid Friday to acquire 425 Sears stores along with other assets of the bankrupt retailer - and a last-minute scramble to improve the offer has not moved the needle, sources tell The Post.

A judge still needs to approve the agreement.

The revised bid is not official, and will be evaluated in an auction set for January 14 that will compete with other bids from liquidators looking to shut it down.

Sears' lawyers said a revised bid will require Mr Lampert to make a $120m (£94.4m) down payment, through his hedge fund, by 4pm NY time on Wednesday.

Image: Sears has been steadily shutting stores, earmarking 262 shops for closure by February this year.

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A main point of contention in the negotiations between Lampert and Sears previously centered on whether Lampert's bid fully addressed the bankruptcy costs that Sears has racked up, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The decision was predicated on the condition that Lampert's hedge fund provide a $121 million deposit by Wednesday, as the former CEO makes a last-ditch effort to save the company.

The revised deal was reached after days of "virtually round-the-clock negotiations", Sears attorney Ray Schrock told the court. It also sought a release from any liability related to transactions between the hedge fund and the retailer prior to Sears' bankruptcy filing.

ESL's ability to finance its purchase by effectively forgiving the retailer's debt will be also be considered at the bankruptcy auction, Schrock said.

Lawyers for Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, were pressing for more time to sweeten his offer.

In general, bankruptcy courts would rather not liquidate a company if there's a chance to keep it alive and its workers employed, said David Stowell, professor of finance at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Reports swirled that Sears had decided it was not a viable option to stay in business and that it would ask the court Tuesday for permission to start shutting down.

Lampert had submitted a bid on December 28.

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