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Sears Creditors Accuse Lampert of Orchestrating Takeover Through Malfeasance

January 28, 2019, 09:00 AM
Filed Under: Bankruptcy

Ten days after Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert was named the winning bidder for the remaining assets of the 125-year old retail giant, creditors are fighting back, accusing Lampert and his hedge fund ESL Investments of orchestrating "a multi-year and multi-faceted scheme" to "steal" the company's remaining assets for personal profit. 

In a 136-page court filing on Jan. 23, attorneys for the Committee of Unsecured Creditors called the demise of the retailer "nothing short of tragic." While acknowledging market forces played a role in Sears' collapse, it was "precipitated by years of misconduct by Lampert and ESL," the creditors told a bankruptcy court in New York. 

"After taking control of Sears in 2005, ESL--acting at all times at founder and namesake Lampert's direction-- engaged in serial asset stripping, taking Sears' best assets out of the enterprise to shield them from the claims of other creditors and maximize ESL's investments," the creditors committee alleges in the filing (which can be viewed here, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal). 

Lampert strongly denied the accusations.   

"Over the past several months, we have provided countless pages of documents to the Creditors’ Committee and held numerous discussions with their advisors. We have cooperated fully with their review and remain confident that the processes we followed are unimpeachable," ESL said, in a statement published by USA Today and numerous other press outlets. "We reject any assertion to the contrary and will vigorously contest any effort to assert claims against ESL, its principals or affiliates concerning these transactions.”

On Jan. 18, Sears Holdings Corporation announced that ESL Investments, Inc. was selected as the winning bidder in the Company's auction after pledging approximately $5.2 billion. The winning bid came after months of wrangling with creditors who preferred to see the retail giant liquidated. An approval hearing is sheduled for Feb. 1 



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