Last-minute bid made to rescue Sears from liquidation

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Auto centers at the Durham stores will close in late January.

Sears Holdings Corp Chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a $4.4 billion takeover bid for the bankrupt US retailer, representing its only chance of escaping liquidation and laying off tens of thousands of workers, a spokesman for the billionaire's hedge fund said on Friday. He also cut the price he's willing to pay by $200 million to $4.4 billion.

A management-level employee with Sumter's Kmart - who asked to not be identified by The Sumter Item - said Saturday morning that store employees were informed of the upcoming closing on Thursday.

Transform Holdco LLC, an affiliate of Lampert's ESL Investments hedge fund, said it hoped to keep 425 stores open and 50,000 people working.

Sears is closing 80 more stores as it teeters on the brink of liquidation.

Lampert proposed putting in relatively little additional cash as part of his planned bid, instead offering to forgive some of the money he is owed and then having the new version of Sears borrow money.

Sears CEO Edward Lampert left and former Sears CEO Alan Lacy
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The Durham store closings are pieces of the struggling retailer's shrinking local footprint, which will leave the once-mighty department store giant with just one traditional store in the Triangle. Going out of business sales will start within two weeks.

Two Central Texas Sears will be closing by Spring.

The company had almost 700 stores at the time of its bankruptcy filing. Most of the 80 stores will shut down by late March.

The company has set a deadline of the end of business today for a buyer to step in and purchase about 500 stores and its Kenmore appliance brand.

ESL said that should its bid be accepted, it expects the company to emerge from bankruptcy.

Friday's announcement came among reports that Sears, once the largest retailer in the world, might be near liquidation as a key court deadline came without any expected bids for the firm's assets.

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